It's rare moments like this novel that I wish I had kept up my Spanish better...Puig, Manuel. Kiss of the Spider Woman. Trans. Thomas Colchie. 1979. New York: Vintage, 1991. (First Spanish Edition: 1976)Summary
: Valentin, a political prisoner, and Molina, a gay man in for "corruption of a minor"/statutory rape, share a jail cell, passing the time with Molina's retellings of his favorite movies. Unbeknownst to Valentin, however, Molina has been put with him by the powers that be in order to extract information from him about his fellow revolutionaries--with the reward for Molina being early parole so that he may care for his hypertensive mother. The two men fall in love instead. In the end, Molina does not give anything away but is paroled anyway and attempts to secretly make contact with the revolutionaries...only to be killed. Valentin, meanwhile, has been interrogated within an inch of his life. Comments
: Hands down the best gay prison fantasy I've ever read!
*coughs* Ahem. Seriously, though, this is a gorgeous, gorgeous novel. The near-exclusive use of dialogue/interior monologue makes for an intensely personal, yet simultaneously distancing, reading experience. (Though if someone could explain the purpose of all those freaking footnotes, I'm all ears.) At times, the two men read like Puig's alter ego sock puppets as they espouse their respective life philosophies. For example, Valentin is an ardent feminist, and he extrapolates his political sentiments in order to conclude that the female-identified, passive Molina deserves to take shit from nobody. It highlights for me how the author has connected freedom for one minority group as freedom for all. But, at other times, what ISN'T being said is more intensely realized for the reader than what actually is. The romantic moments, especially, are unforgettable. It positively broke my heart when Molina didn't even want to go free if it meant leaving Valentin, the one true love of his life. Molina's film plots, told in great detail, append the events in the novel perfectly; Molina dies in a way similar to one of the females in his film, shot by a revolutionary who perhaps wanted to silence him. I'd like to believe that he chose, if not strictly anticipated, his death; he claimed to want to die, and, in any case, he was living for his mother, not himself. If his love was to end, why not his life? Everything ends eventually, though Valentin, at least, is alive to regret during delirious fantasy telling Molina to contact the revolutionaries. Talk about a depressing conclusion.Notes
: trade paperback, 21st printingRating
- Definitely one of those "Where have you been all my life!?" reading experiences.