Jason Webster, Duende (2003):
Spaniards didn’t care much about smoking in public places. No bar waiter, belly straining behind the obligatory vest and white shirt tucked into tight, black trousers was complete without a cigarette – usually a Fortuna or Nobel – hanging out of the side of his mouth, as he took out the rubbish at the end of another sweaty shift. Middle-aged women preparing the food in workers’ bars nonchalantly lit up as they whisked the eggs for another tortilla de patatas. There were even – and this pleased me the most – men in their sixties shuffling in their slippers and puffing happily away on thick Montecristo No.3s in the Vallecas supermarkets. It took the edge off so much bright, white packaging somehow.
(San Sebastian, 2013)
When I finished the book I remembered it as quite badly written – but this is good writing. Perhaps the problem is that the theme (Duende) is meant to carry the book but doesn’t succeed in doing so. It is basically an interesting slice of memoir, young man goes off to Spain and learns flamenco guitar.