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Kiss of the Spider Woman

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  9,831 Ratings  ·  574 Reviews
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 n ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published April 3rd 1991 by Vintage (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
More than anything, this book gets me excited about the possibilities of writing! Puig revolutionizes the way the novel is framed: his awesome work is a play, a stream of consciousness, a historic document, a research paper, a review of films... it's ALL these things in one poignant & EXTREMELY hard-to-put-down novel!

The two main characters (Molina, the sad, deceitful & complex "Spider Woman," who lures and tests the headstrong Valentin) hold entire worlds inside of them. They are both o
Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
-- What are you reading?
-- Kiss of the Spider Woman.
-- Hey, I've heard of that.
-- Likely because of the movie that was made of it.
-- How is the book?
-- Fantastic. Essentially all dialogue, but somehow all the more descriptive for it.
-- Huh. You gonna finish those fries?
So funny thing, I actually started this book once when I was a kid, maybe about nine years old? Strangely, I thought I remembered what I'd read really clearly, but then on this rereading realized I'd read more of it before than I'd previously realized. Also funny, my passion for this book waned around the same place this time as when I was nine, though this time I stuck with it and followed through to the end.

So this book takes place in a Latin American prison cell occupied by a political prison
This is a book which uses all but the usual narrative methods. Conversation, transcripts, reports, foot notes, movie summaries, everything but the usual descriptive linear way.

The story is about two prisoners - Arregui, with political charges, and Molina, for 'corrupting the youth' - that is, homosexuality. The conversations are about films, the stories about them. Molina tells a story about what must be a romance made in Nazi Germany, a racist propaganda piece, but he finds the emotions in the
Francisco H. González
Mi primer acercamiento a Manuel Puig (1932-1990) ha sido a través de esta novela publicada en 1976. El resultado no ha podido ser más satisfactorio. La novela no puede ser más triste y luminosa al mismo tiempo. Se puede leer desde distintos planos, ya sea el histórico: la novela se ambienta en 1975 en Argentina poco antes de que la dictadura se aupara al poder. El plano sociológico, con dos presos, uno preso político, Valentín, ligado a la izquierda armada revolucionaria. El otro, Molina (llamad ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
—¿Te imaginas una historia donde pones a un preso político compartiendo celda con un homosexual?
—¿Un rojillo y un travesti?
—Sí, algo así. ¿Te lo imaginas?
—Sí. Y de hecho, más que imaginarlo, eso ya lo he leído.
—¿Y qué tal?
—Bueno, pues así como lo planteas, de entrada, no suena mal, pero no le estás haciendo justicia a la novela, al autor.
—Bueno, así como lo planteas dejas de lado muchas cosas.
—Pero es que sólo es una pregunta detonante.
—De todas maneras, no transmites la indiferencia del u
Rebecca McNutt
Jul 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Better than I thought it'd be, very creepy and original. It wasn't the most memorable book in the world, though.
Teresa Proença
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-argentina, e4
"-Não, eu não me arrependo de nada. Cada vez me convenço mais de que o sexo é a pura inocência.",
diz Valentín a Molina...

Valentín Paz é um prisioneiro político. Luis Molina está preso por corrupção de menores, ou seja, porque é homossexual.
Estão juntos numa cela de uma prisão de Buenos Aires, no ano de 1975.
Para que o tempo custe menos a passar, Molina conta filmes, que viu quando era livre, os quais servem de pretexto para se irem revelando a si próprios e um ao outro. E vão criando uma ligação
Nancy Oakes

In my opinion, Kiss of the Spider Woman is an exquisite novel, one I could not put down until the very last word. To give away too much about this book is to spoil, so it will be just barebones here. Set in Argentina in the mid-1970s, Luis Molina and Valentín Arregui are cellmates in a prison -- Molina, a gay window dresser, for corruption of a minor, and Valentín for being a Marxist guerilla who will not give over any information to the authorities. Molina spends much of their time together rec
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am legit stunned.
Rating and review later. Right now I am speechless.
Dec 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: po-mo freaks, lovers of weird lit
Shelves: 1001-books, undergrad
Really fascinating novel that I wasn't expecting to like at first. You're kind of swept up in the dialogue between unidentifiable characters in an unidentifiable setting--and you're left in this limbo for a good 20 or so pages. But Puig's undercutting of generic and authorial authority in the text, his wonderful use of oral storytelling (in written form?), and the politics implicit and explicit to the text make this both an enjoyable and provocative read. By the end of the novel, I felt as thoug ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una novela no convencional, distinta, elocuente y sencilla .- Un diálogo entre dos presos (uno político y otro homosexual ) que lleva implícito el conflicto emocional de cada uno; temores y sueños que hilvanan sus conversaciones alternadas con historias cinematográficas contadas por uno de ellos para amortiguar el duro paso del tiempo. Esa relación que se crea bajo las extremas condiciones va a construir  un lazo emocional fortísimo que llevará su espíritu  a extremos inverosímiles pero necesari ...more
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Failed revolutionaries, cynics, people who like to whine
Most everything about this odd book is enjoyable: the dialogue is crisp and never flat, the characters believably drawn, and the film plots that comprise much of the storytelling are told with startling freshness. Valentin and Molina's cell could be anywhere where two people are discussing life; Puig's themes are universal, the suffering is real. There are a few unexpected twists that keep the heart of the rather dry story beating, and it is apparent that Puig feels deeply about both men and has ...more
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
no comment.

i have a few rules regarding bookface. one of 'em being that you just don't write a book report within a month of DFJ reporting on the same book. i mean, c'mon. it'd be like singing a duet with morrissey. or crossing swords with john holmes. or moving into the kremlin directly after stalin. or going scotch for scotch with christopher hitchens...

you're only gonna look like an asshole when compared to a master.
Avevo visto il film, tanti anni fa. La regia era di Hector Babenco e gli interpreti William Hurt, Raul Julia e Sonia Braga. Ne ero rimasta affascinata, sia per la trama sia per l’intensa recitazione.

Solo oggi ho letto il libro. E mi è piaciuto quanto la pellicola, se non di più.

Non mi è facile parlarne, poiché l’emozione nasce esclusivamente dagli impercettibili cambiamenti nel rapporto tra due uomini che sono reclusi in una cella, da cui escono solo per brevi attimi, scanditi e separati da una
Vit Babenco
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kiss of the Spider Woman is a powerful psychological drama – a dark chamber nocturne.
Sometimes the entire state turns into a jail and then prisons become just a continuation of the state…
There are two men in a prison cell: one is effete and the other is masculine, one is a seducer the other is a revolutionary, and each of them pursues his own benefit…
“…when they switch on a strong spotlight, the appearance of such a strange woman, with a long dress on, that’s shining, ‘Silver lamé, that fits he
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
На екрана - двама души в една килия, диалогът им, плюс многоточията. В киносалона - авторът, преводачът-нинджа, аз и читателят, заел книгата преди мен от библиотеката и подчертавал тънко с молив. Голям филм.
Gabriel Unheimlich
Una novela extraordinaria. La había leído como hace diez años, pero me gustó mucho más esta segunda. Manuel Puig es un escritor espectacular.
This might be the oddest 1001 list book that I've read yet (although I've not yet read quite 400 so nearly 900 remain from the combined list). The book opens with a description of a scene - one person is describing a woman and how you notice something odd about her she's not a woman like all the others

What about her eyes a second disembodiment voice asks. And so the first voice describes them.

Who is speaking? What are they speaking about? Is it a movie or a tv show?

- I picture her dark-looking
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The book's blurb says this was made into a film where William Hurt, who played the role of Molina, was named best actor at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. I haven't seen the movie but I was not surprised by this: Molina is a difficult role for any actor.

Molina here is a gay guy who is in a Latin American prison for child molestation. He becomes the cellmate of Valentin, a fanatical revolutionary. No two persons could have been more different. Molina has no interest whatsoever in politics which, h
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
porque este sueño es corto, pero es feliz


Es verdaderamente sorprendente la habilidad de Puig para definir a sus dos protagonistas exclusivamente a base de diálogos, tratados además de forma totalmente natural, apenas afectada. La relación entre ambos rezuma una ternura que contrasta perfectamente con lo sórdido del contexto, una celda durante la dictadura militar argentina.

Las películas que le cuenta Molina a Valentín para hacer más llevaderas las interminables horas en prisión (serie B de l
João Roque
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gays, narrativa
Já tinha visto há anos o excelente filme de H.Babenco e com uma extraordinária interpretação de William Hurt no papel de Molina.
Agora foi a vez de ler o livro e claro que a narrativa é muito mais completa que o livro, nomeadamente quando Molina vai contando a Aguirre os seus filmes preferidos, com muita vivacidade e um colorido muito latinos.
Manuel Puig mostra ser um excelente autor e faz-me ter vontade de ler outras obras suas.
Prison literature, written and presumably set during the Argentine Dirty War, which was an unlawful counter-insurgency operation carried out by neo-fascists in Argentina, with the support of motherfuckers in the United States under cover of the kissingerian Operation Condor, which coordinated rightwing state violence all across the Monroe Doctrine zone. (US parrotriots should be advised that they are hated around the world precisely because of this sort of operation.)

Much of the novel is dialogu
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: jailbird faggots
Shelves: drama
Puig's tale consists [almost] entirely of dialogue. Written in the mid-seventies, during the Argentinian junta of 'disappearances' and mass incarceration, Kiss of the Spider Woman traces the evolving relationship of two convicts: a youthful dissident and an older homosexual. Later made into a successful movie, the plot itself mainly revolves around the movies that one character describes to the second. As a book of ideas, Puig's short novel glosses over character history and contextual backgroun ...more
Beatriz Chavarri
Si ya con Boquitas pintadas sentía que Manuel Puig era un autor fenomenal, con la rara capacidad de desdoblarse y crear un discurso completamente femenino, sin que se sintiera el artificio literario (no se siente como un escritor imitando la voz de una mujer, sino que parece que se lee el diario de una mujer, y no de paso una mujer de altos vuelos intelectuales sino criada entre radionovelas, tangos y boleros), con El beso de la mujer araña descubrí a un autor a quien bien puedo llamar genial, a ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Jul 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
I'm hard pressed to describe my reaction to this book. I have difficulty, too, deciding on a final rating.

Four stars, I think, for an innovative way of presenting the story and characters. This is told entirely in dialog. At first, we don't even know the character names and learn them only because one addresses the other by name. Characterization is revealed only by what we learn from them. There are a couple of very brief government reports giving official background on the crimes that put the
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a modern masterpiece, and something everyone should read once. Puig's tale of sex and love, passion, betrayal, politics and oppression, is woven together from dialogue, dreams and footnotes, movie summaries and sharp, cutting images rendered in elegant prose that mimics the morphine hallucinations and fantasies that provide escape from the tortured lives led by the protagonists. The main characters, Valentine and Molina, are slowly defined by their reactions to the world and each ot ...more
Daniel Polansky
Nov 26, 2017 added it
Shelves: keep
A dialogue between two men in an Argentinian prison, one sent for leftist activities, the other for being a homosexual, whose growing love is sublimated through the elaborate description of fake movies which they collectively recollect. I sort of thought the thing worked better during the first 2/3’s when the love affair is unrequited rather than during the last, tragic bit, but still it’s a very odd, clever, vibrant little novel. I’ll keep an eye out for Puig going forward. I borrowed it from s ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, to-own, español
Well, well, well...

I didn't expected that.
(view spoiler)
I had a perfect gif for this but that fucking image error ¬¬
Plus, the best footnotes ever.
A Cubierta
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Plata quemada
  • The Witness
  • El cuarto de atrás
  • Santa Evita
  • Los ríos profundos
  • El astillero
  • Before Night Falls
  • Los pichiciegos
  • La guaracha del Macho Camacho
  • Bomarzo
  • El juguete rabioso
  • El lugar sin límites
  • Here's to You, Jesusa!
  • La virgen de los sicarios
  • Espantapájaros
  • Three Trapped Tigers
  • The Death of Artemio Cruz
  • Broad and Alien is the World
Manuel Puig (born Juan Manuel Puig Delledonne) was an Argentinian author. Among his best known novels are La traición de Rita Hayworth (1968) (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth), Boquitas pintadas (1969) (Heartbreak Tango), and El beso de la mujer araña (1976) (Kiss of the Spider Woman), which was made into a film by the Argentine-Brazilian Director, Héctor Babenco and in 1993 into a Broadway musical.
More about Manuel Puig...

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“Es que habría que saber aceptar las cosas como se dan, y apreciar lo bueno que te pase, aunque no dure. Porque nada es para siempre.” 24 likes
“- Estoy muy cansado, Valentín. Estoy cansado de sufrir. Vos no sabés, me duelte todo por dentro.
- ¿ Adónde te duele?
- Adentro del pecho, y en la garganta - ¿ Porque será que la tristeza se siente siempre ahí?”
More quotes…