Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me
Publication Year: 1999
Jaime Manrique weaves into his own memoir the lives of three important twentieth-century Hispanic writers: the Argentine Manuel Puig, author of Kiss of the Spider Woman; the Cuban Reinaldo Arenas, author of Before Night Falls; and Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca. Manrique celebrates the lives of these heroic writers who were made outcasts for both their homosexuality and their politics.
"Manrique's double vision yields insights into Puig, Arenas, and Lorca unavailable to a writer less attuned to the complex interplay of culture and sexuality, as well as that of race and class in Latino and Anglo societies."—George DeStefano, The Nation
"A splendid memoir of Manuel Puig. It evokes him—how he really was—better than anything I've read."—Susan Sontag
"Where Manrique's tale differs from others is in its unabashed and sensitive treatment of sexuality. One reads his autobiographical account with pleasure and fascination."—Jose Quiroga, George Washington University
"Manrique's voice is wise, brave, and wholly original. This chronicle of self-discovery and literary encounters is heartening and deep."—Kennedy Fraser
"In this charmingly indiscreet memoir, Jaime Manrique writes with his customary humor and warm sympathy, engaging our delighted interest on every page. He has the rare gift of invoking and inviting intimacy, in this case a triangulated intimacy between himself, his readers, and his memories. These are rich double portraits."—Phillip Lopate
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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1. Legs: A Memoir of Childhood and Adolescence
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This is my first memory: I'm taking a shower with one of my young aunts and I'm reaching for her pubis. She giggles and swirls around me. I'm standing on my own, but I don't talk yet. The bathroom where we're showering is the only place in our house I vaguely remember. The white-washed walls are damp, streaked with lichen growing around the edges of the cement floor.
2. Manuel Puig: The Writer as Diva
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The Argentinean expatriate writer Manuel Puig was one of the most effeminate men I've ever known. I met him in 1977 in a fiction workshop at Columbia University. The workshop was open to anyone in the city, and the only requirement was to submit a manuscript that Puig approved. I delivered my first novella to Puig at his Bedford Street address. Puig opened the door a tiny crack, took the manuscript, and asked me where I was from.
3. The Last Days of Reinaldo Arenas: A Sadness as Deep as the Sea
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Early in December 1990 the literary agent Thomas Colchie called to say that the exiled Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas-who lived around the corner from me, in Hell's Kitchen-was in what looked like the final stages of AIDS and that he had expressed a desire to hear from me.
4. Federico Garcia Lorca and Internalized Homophobia
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I came to terms with my own internalized homophobia only after Manuel and Reinaldo and other close friends died of AIDS. In a way, I can say that it was because of AIDS that I finally learned to love gay men as soul mates.
5. The Other Jaime Manrique: A Dead Soul
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I first heard about the other Jaime Manrique in the spring of 1992, shortly after the publication of my novel Latin Moon in Manhattan. One night I received a call from a woman who introduced herself as my ex-wife. I told her that I had never been married and that I was a gay man.
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I didn't set out to write this book. Soon after Manuel Puig died, I felt compelled to write down what I remembered about him as a way of clarifying what he had meant to me. In bits and pieces I composed the memoir included in this volume. But two years went by after its completion before I took any steps to get it published. In the meantime Reinaldo had died.
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Publication Year: 1999