Jaime Manrique's slim Eminent Maricones
starts off with some disjunctive memories of his childhood in Colombia, but truly begins to pick up steam when Manrique recounts his friendship with fellow writer Manuel Puig (best known as the author of Kiss of the Spider Woman
), who, despite his "drag queen mannerisms" was "one of the most tough-minded people I've ever met." After a short chapter portraying an encounter with Reinaldo Arenas two days before Arenas, his body ravaged by the effects of HIV, committed suicide, Manrique launches an in-depth consideration of the shifts in attitude toward homosexuality in the writings of Federico García Lorca. Reading Lorca after the deaths of Puig and Arenas, Manrique explains, helped him come to terms with his own internalized homophobia; it also creates a loose canon of gay Latino writers who fought against tyranny--though any influence this canon may have had on Manrique's own writing is left undiscussed. Although its intimate portraits will be appreciated by those with an interest in gay or Latino literature, or both, other readers may find Eminent Maricones
too brief to hold their interest.
From Publishers Weekly
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 mariconesAhomosexual 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 workA"The images of homosexuality in my work were very warped: like Garcia Lorca, violence and homosexual self-hatred were beneath everything I wrote"Aand 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.
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