Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me

Eminent MariconesThe Argentinean expatriate writer Manuel Puig was one of the most effeminate men I've ever known. I met him in 1977 in a fiction workshop at Columbia University. The workshop was open to anyone in the city, and the only requirement was to submit a manuscript that Puig approved. I delivered my first novella to Puig at his Bedford Street address. Puig opened the door a tiny crack, took the manuscript, and asked me where I was from. When I said Colombia, he asked me a few questions about Cartagena. Then he promised to get in touch with me as soon as he read the manuscript. A couple of days later Puig called to say that I could attend the workshop, and he added that he liked my writing because it came 'from under the epidermis.' It would be nearly impossible for me to describe now how thrilled I was to hear this from an author I idolized with the complete and irrational ardor of youth.

For the first time, in riveting and eloquent detail, Manrique describes the final days of his mentors, Manuel Puig and Reinaldo Arenas, both of whom died in tragic circumstances due to AIDS. Manrique also reveals Federico García Lorca's struggle with homophobia and that poet's relationship with an American boyfriend.

Manrique, one of the leading Latino authors working today, skillfully weaves into his own provocative autobiography the lives of three of contemporary literature's most important Hispanic writers: the Argentine Puig; Arenas, originally from Cuba; and Spanish poet and playwright Lorca. Manrique's poetic and moving memoir explores Hispanic literature, sexuality, and culture and celebrates the achievements of these pioneering and heroic writers.

As one of those writers, Manrique chronicles his own intellectual and emotional journey toward becoming an author. Through an account of his early years in Colombia, he provides a candid glimpse of what it means to grow up gay in Latin America. With sensitivity and wit, Eminent Maricones deftly portrays key moments in the private and literary lives of four eminent Latinos.

PRAISE FOR Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me

Eminent Maricones"Roll over, Lytton Strachey."
—Roy Blount, Jr.

"A splendid memoir of Manuel Puig. It evokes him—how he really was—better than anything I've read."
—Susan Sontag

"Manrique's voice is wise, brave, and wholly original. This chronicle of self-discovery and literary encounters is heartening and deep."
—Kennedy Fraser

"In this charmingly indiscreet memoir, Jaime Manrique writes with his customary humor and warm sympathy, engaging our delighted interest on every page. He has the rare gift of invoking and inviting intimacy, in this case a triangulated intimacy between himself, his readers, and his memories. These are rich double portraits."
—Phillip Lopate

"Posterity is a puzzle, of course. Whether this volume will last I cannot say, but that it should I have no doubt."
—Ilán Stavans, Washington Post Book World

Editions

Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.

Madrid, Spain: Editorial Síntesis, 2000.

Bogotá, Colombia: Editora Alfaguara S.A., 2001.

Tokyo, Japan: Seidosha, 2006.

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