Manuel Puig was born in General Villegas (in Buenos Aires province). After unsuccessfully studying architecture in the Universidad de Buenos Aires, he began working as a film archivist and editor in the city of Buenos Aires and later, in Italy after winning a scholarship from the Italian Institute of Buenos Aires. Puig's dream was to become a screenwriter to write TV shows and movies. His career as a screenwriter never took off, however. In the 1960s, he moved back to Buenos Aires, where he penned his first major novel, La traición de Rita Hayworth. Because he had leftist political tendencies and also foresaw a rightist wave in Argentina, Puig moved to Mexico in 1973, where he wrote his later works (including El beso de la mujer araña).
Much of Puig's work can be seen as pop art. Perhaps due to his work in film and television, Puig managed to create a writing style that incorporated elements of these mediums, such as montage and the use of multiple points of view. He also made much use of popular culture (for example, soap opera) in his works. In Latin American literary histories, he is presented as a writer who belongs to the Postboom and Post-modernist schools.
Puig lived in exile throughout most of his life. In 1989 Puig moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he died in 1990. In the official biography, Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman: His Life and Fiction, his close friend Suzanne Jill Levine writes that Puig had been in pain for a few days prior to being admitted to a hospital, where he was told that his gallbladder was inflamed and would have to be taken out. After the surgery, while Puig was recovering, he began to choke and gasp. The medical team was unable to help Puig. His lungs had filled with fluid, and he died of a heart attack at 4:55 a.m. on July 22, 1990.
The 2004 movie Vereda Tropical, directed by Javier Torres, depicts the period when Puig lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The writer's role is played by the actor Fabio Aste.
Critics such as Pamela Bacarisse divides Puig's work into two parts: his early novels, which "attracted an enormous audience by weaving into his narratives the artistic 'sub-products' of mass culture"; and his later books which have "lost their popular appeal" as they evidence "a depressing, even unpalatable, vision of life, no longer even superficially sweetened by palliatives as the mass-media elements are left behind".
Three translations of his work have been recently reprinted by Dalkey Archive Press:
2009: Betrayed by Rita Hayworth
2010: The Buenos Aires Affair
2010: Heartbreak Tango
Burial: Cementerio de la Plata, Buenos Aires, Capital Federal, Argentina
Manuel Puig, 1979, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1124023)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)Further Readings:
Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Vintage (April 3, 1991)
Amazon: Kiss of the Spider Woman
Amazon Kindle: Kiss of the Spider Woman
Sometimes they talk all night long. In the still darkness of their cell, Molina re-weaves the glittering and fragile stories of the film he loves, and the cynical Valentin listens. Valentin believes in the just cause which makes all suffering bearable; Molina believes in the magic of love which makes all else endurable. Each has always been alone, and always - especially now - in danger of betrayal. But in cell, each surrenders to the other something of himself that he has never surrendered before.
Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman His Life by Suzanne Jill Levine
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Faber Faber Inc; First Edition edition (September 4, 2000)
Amazon: Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman His Life
This biography draws upon the author's years of friendship as Manuel Puig's principal English translator, as well as copious interviews and research, for a wealth of information on the Argentinian's equally colourful life and art.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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