Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me

Jaime Manrique, Author University of Wisconsin Press $19.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-299-16180-4
A novelist (Latin Moon in Manhattan) and poet, Manrique has fashioned a personal and sexual memoir out of five essays (four of them previously published) that range from revelatory autobiography to literary criticism and insightful examinations of the lives of noted Latin writers. Opening with an account of his emotionally difficult adolescence in Colombia and closing with the strange story of a doppelg nger, Manrique charts his own growth as a writer as well as his eventual acceptance of his homosexual desires. Interweaving his own life experiences with literary analysis, he devotes the bulk of the work to recollections of his friendships with novelists Manual Puig (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and Reinaldo Arenas (Farewell to the Sea), and an analysis of the homoeroticism of Federico Garcia Lorca's poems and plays. Stating that these ""three writers... were maricones--homosexual men whose destiny was their sexual orientation,"" Manrique boldly recontextualizes their work (and his own) in relation to their homosexuality. He is at his best when discussing his own work--""The images of homosexuality in my work were very warped: like Garcia Lorca, violence and homosexual self-hatred were beneath everything I wrote""--and when he discusses dramatic events such as Arenas's and Puig's deaths from AIDS. This is provocative material, but too often its potential feels only half-explored, leaving the reader wishing for more details and depth. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
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