Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Vedette": A Consideration

The Historical Novel Society just published its review of the highway scribe's novel "Vedette or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows."

Vedette: or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows
Stephen Siciliano, iUniverse, Inc., 2004, $21.95, pb, 369pp, 0595315119

On the surface, Vedette is the tale of a girl who grows and matures through the tumultuous times of the Spanish Revolution. The novel follows Vedette from her humble peasant origins to flamenco singer and dancer and ultimately to being the sole survivor of an idealistic, but doomed, revolutionary movement.

Vedette is more than a protagonist. She is a metaphor of all the ideals of Andalusia and embodies the diversity of cultures, the music, the contradictions, and the simmering passion that characterizes the region. She moves in the story as a muse and a catalyst of events far beyond the reaches of a normal woman.

The author has made this more of an immersive experience than a simple novel. The book includes hand-drawn illustrations of objects in the story, poetry, song lyrics, Spanish idioms, and a musical CD which was included with the review copy. The author uses the dreamy hallucinatory imagery of magical realism against the harsh and gruesome realities of revolution to create a captivating dynamic that will jar and interest readers. The novel remains apolitical for the most part, telling the tale of a revolution through sensual experience instead of political discourse.

Masterfully, the author weaves together a vibrant world that touches on the fantastic around the experiences of Vedette. The metaphors are tight and well constructed throughout the novel, though the imagery and pacing are a little slow on occasion. Overall the story is engrossing, and in the end, haunting, as it addresses history and the passage of time.

Amanda Yesilbas


Also... Vedette has changed the music on her My Space Page to Omar Torrez and the scribe's "Marfil's Furious Salsa." (p. 275 in your book).

No comments: