Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman by Suzanne Jill Levine
His Life and Fictions

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Synopsis

A life-Starring the innovative and flamboyant novelist and playwright as himself.

Manuel Puig (1932-1990), Argentinian author of Kiss of the Spider Woman and pioneer of high camp, stands alone in the pantheon of contemporary Latin American literature. Strongly influenced by Hollywood films of the thirties and forties, his many-layered novels and plays integrate serious fiction and popular culture, mixing political and sexual themes with B-movie scenarios. When his first two novels were published in the late 1960s, they delighted the public but were dismissed as frivolous by the leftist intellectuals of the Boom; his third novel was banned by the Peronist government for irreverence. His influence was already felt, though-even by writers who had dismissed him-and by the time the film version of Kiss of the Spider Woman became a worldwide hit, he was a renowned literary figure.

Puig's way of life was as unconventional as his fiction: he spoke of himself in the female form in Spanish, renamed his friends for his favorite movie stars, referred to his young male devotees as "daughters," and, as a perennial expatriate, lived (often with his mother) everywhere from Rome to Rio de Janeiro. Suzanne Jill Levine, his principal English translator, draws upon years of friendship as well as copious research and interviews in her remarkable book, the first biography of the inimitable writer.

 

About Suzanne Jill Levine

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Noted translator Suzanee Jill Levine has translated numerous works, including books by Jose Donoso and Manuel Puig.
 
Published July 1, 2000 by Farrar Straus & Giroux (T). 448 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman

Kirkus Reviews

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Levine (The Subversive Scribe, 1991), who collaborated with Puig on English versions of his novels, canvassed film archives, interviewed surviving friends, and combed through Puig’s abundant unpublished writings to construct a somewhat disheveled life-story befitting Puig’s motley existence.

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Publishers Weekly

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The intricate links between politics, movies and life that are at the heart of Manuel Puig's 1976 novel The Kiss of the Spider Woman are also at the center of this engaging and illuminating critical biography of the late Argentinean author.

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Project MUSE

Vargas Llosa's seeming defensiveness over what he perceives as Puig's critique of politically committed, or ideologically inspired, literature misses Levine's point that Puig's narratives are powerfully engaged politically.

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