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Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog) Hardcover – April 19, 1999

5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (April 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299161803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299161804
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,229,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on January 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me" is an extraordinary achievement by author Jaime Manrique. The book combines autobiographical material by the Colombian-born Manrique with chapters about three other gay male Hispanic writers: Cuba's Reinaldo Arenas, Spain's Federico Garcia Lorca, and Argentina's Manuel Puig. The book thus constitutes an exploration of a sort of pan-Hispanic gay male identity, as well as a moving meditation on the place of the literary artist in the modern world. Portions of the book have been previously published in both Spanish and English.
Manrique's autobiographical writing is fascinating. He describes his childhood in Colombia, his emigration to the United States, and his "births" as both a writer and a gay man. Particularly powerful is his memoir of learning how to read; for him, awakening to the power of literacy was a life-changing revelation: "I felt as Balboa must have felt when he first glimpsed the Pacific."
Manrique knew both Arenas and Puig personally, and he writes with tenderness and insight of the last days of these two great writers. In his chapter on Lorca, he "reconstructs" a portrait of the man and the artist through second-hand accounts and through readings of Lorca's own fascinating writings.
Manrique describes Arenas, Lorca, and Puig as "the great triumvirate of openly homosexual writers who have written in Spanish." Reading his reclamation of these three writers as his literary forbears, I was reminded of the work done by African-American writer Alice Walker to recover Zora Neale Hurston as a black literary foremother. Like Walker, Manrique honors those whose revolutionary literature continues to inspire new generations of writers.
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By A Customer on September 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This slender book is almost epic in its emotional density and in the issues raised by expatriot Colombian writer Jaime Manrique, an award-winning writer in two languages. The author first lays out the facts of his own extraordinary childhood and his development as a write of poetry, prose and nonfiction. Then considers his friendships with Reinaldo Arenas and Manuel Puig, and his albeit tangential relationship as a gay Latino writer and teacher with Lorca, who was murdered by Falangists forces in Spain long before Manrique was born. The issues of EMINENT MARICONES ("maricones" is sland for "fag" in Spanish) are family, country, politics, aesthetics, personal and sexual identity, homophobia, and the absolute triumph of all four of these characters, three of whom died tragically if transcendently. Happily, Manrique himself is alive and writing in his strong, compassionate voice. What a privilege to read so clear-headed a look at sometimes difficult realities. I could not put it down.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an intellectual diary, this book is fascinating in charting Jaime Manrique's growth as a man and a writer from his youth in Colombia to his present day life in New York City. The descriptions of his friendships with Manuel Puig and Renaldo Arenas vividly demonstrate that although marketers would like to think "Latin American writer" means only one thing, three more different temperaments than Puig, Arenas and Manrique could not be found in any group. Their differences did not, however, prevent them from becoming supportive writing colleagues and close friends. Since those same differences led inevitably to intense disagreements and hilarious misunderstandings, Manrique has some delicious dish to spill and he does that with flair. Manrique's exhilarating discussion of his two friends' work will spur many, including me, to read more of it. And the fact that Manrique resisted the lure of Federico Garcia Lorca for so long makes his eventual capitulation to Lorca's power (especially the plays) an object lesson in not forcing our reading of some writers until we are "ready." That Manrique's compact and loving homage to his heroes packs an emotional wallop is a surprsing and welcome bonus.
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Format: Hardcover
Emminent Maricones is a treasure. It is rare that a writer of Manrique's skill takes the time to lovingly explore the very human side of the lives and literary contributions of fellow writers. This is not a an irreverant comparison of whether or not Puig, Lorca, and Arenas were able to write well BECAUSE they were gay but how perhaps their perception and world view was more acute because of their sexuality. I found it irresistable and read through this little jewel of a book twice in one sitting, the next logical step being to return to the recommended books Manrique thoughtfully suggests!
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