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Kiss Of The Spider Woman (Arena Books) Paperback – 7 Jun 1984


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Jun 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099342006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099342007
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Blue Yates on 19 April 2007
Format: Paperback
Puig's masterpiece is the story of trust and betrayal that takes place in an Argentinean prison in the 1970s. The two main characters are Molina, imprisoned for homosexuality, and Valentin, a political revolutionary. To help pass time, Molina recounts the stories and memories of his favourite movies. The first of these is the classic noir 'Cat People', and further movies concerning the Resistance in Nazi-occupied France, Zombies and others. This vehicle gives Puig an opportunity to tell stories within stories. Much of the book is written as an exchange of dialogue, more like a piece of drama than a novel, and also includes footnotes that discuss the nature of homosexuality as a psychological condition.

This Freudian environment, with the addition of Puig's astonishing mixture of forms, gives the book its backdrop. Over this background Puig tells us a story of how Molina and Valentin are drawn together by circumstance and then forced apart by fate. In terms of both form and content Kiss of the Spider Woman is a breathtaking and powerful work that is destined to become a modern classic.

Translation by Thomas Colchie
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By M. B. Alcat on 15 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback
"Kiss of the Spider Woman" (1976) is a novel written by Manuel Puig (1932-1990), an Argentinian playwright, novelist and screenwriter. Its subject is controversial, as it delves upon themes such as sexual identity, violence and torture. All the same, I think reading it is worthwhile, as it is one of those books that tell a story that comes alive to the reader...

In case you haven't heard about "Kiss of the Spider Woman", I will tell you a little about its plot. The main characters are Valentin and Molina, two men that share a prison cell, during the Argentinian dictatorship of the late 1970's. Molina is a sensitive soul that happens to be an homosexual, and Valentin a revolutionary that despises the fact that Molina has no political ideas (and is confused by the notion that someone can choose to be gay). Due to the fact that both share the same cell, Valentin and Molina spend some time talking to each other about their ideas and feelings, something they wouldn't have done in any other circumstance. Despite their differences, an unlikely friendship will begin between them, a friendship that may well turn into something more. However, there is more than one twist that will surprise you in this story, even though I won't tell you about that in order not to spoil the surprise.

On the whole, this is an engaging book that is likely to interest the reader, but that is not adequate for children, and that won't appeal to those that don't want to read a book that deals with homosexuality. I liked the way in which Puig told Valentin and Molina's story, and that is the reason why I give it 3.5 stars...

Belen Alcat
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By ClareSS on 18 Dec 2006
Format: Paperback
Thoroughly post-modern in approach and incredibly innovative, I read this cover to cover in one sitting. Excellent plot development and deliberately disconcerting polyphonic structure with genuinely surprising twists in the tale. Don't be put off by the original (and 'difficult') structure - this book is well worth perservering with.

Wonderful stuff!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on 3 July 2008
Format: Paperback
This was Puig's fourth and best-known novel. It was published in 1976 and translated into English three years later.

Much of the book consisted of dialogue. It, and the shifting from the daily routine of the two main characters in prison to the descriptions of the films, was usually entertaining and kept my interest. The author contrasted the two personalities and their ways of thinking -- political and sensual, engaged and escapist, living for the future and living for the present, "masculine" and "feminine." He showed the two men opposed at first, but moving to accommodate each other as the book progressed. For me, this was shown especially well at the end.

The range of films described was also interesting. Obviously, one can relate the characters in the films -- with their double lives, terrible secrets, covert missions, the search for love and the need to believe in it, love overcoming betrayal and hardship -- to the two in prison.

The amount of space in the book given to films, and later on to the popular songs in the last film, was part of Puig's usual concern, how people use those forms to escape from reality but also elevate their lives, how their understanding of themselves is guided by the forms, with their "tremendous truths."

Toward the book's end, the characters either began speaking the language of the other or acting something like the other. The author also seemed to suggest that an ideal relationship, whatever the members' gender, was one where people kept no secrets from each other. All these things were enjoyable.

A few lengthy interior monologues in the novel weren't understood, and the over-long footnotes on Freud, Reich, Marcuse, Brown and others, or the description of wartime Berlin, often seemed dated and over the top.
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