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Kiss of the Spider Woman

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  13,676 ratings  ·  934 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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Popular Answered Questions
Paola Yes, these are the films
-Cat People (1942) Jacques Tourneur
-Die große Liebe
-Hipócrita” (México, 1949)
-I walked with a Zombie (1943)
Yes, these are the films
-Cat People (1942) Jacques Tourneur
-Die große Liebe
-Hipócrita” (México, 1949)
-I walked with a Zombie (1943)
Seba Mastruzzo Yes, you have to read them. They're not footnotes on sexuality as much as they're part of the formal game that the novel implies. …moreYes, you have to read them. They're not footnotes on sexuality as much as they're part of the formal game that the novel implies. (less)

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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,676 ratings  ·  934 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 & tempts and tests the headstrong Valentin) hold entire worlds inside of them. They are both
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
Leni Iversen
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001books
I think I must have been in my mid or late teens when I came across the movie adaptation of this novel on TV. I don't remember much about it, only that the movie must have just started and that I recognised William Hurt and Raul Julia, and that I was immediately drawn in by the chemistry between the two. I looked the movie up just now and was surprised to find that they actually filmed the movie scenes that Molina (Hurt) relate from memory to Valentin (Julia). All I recall from the movie is the ...more
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
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
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book more than 10 times. Only one word can describe it: Brilliant!!! Forever one of my favorite books EVER! A true masterpiece.
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.
Steven Godin
Manuel Puig had an unusual structure and premise for his book, which at first was highly intriguing, but soon became ponderous and lost it's way. His style has been described as experimental and creative, and maybe that's the case, but it felt more like a watered down script, consisting only of lines of dialogue to tell the story, but with the disadvantage of no sense of place or mood.
The premise of having the whole novel set in a prison cell seemed to have potential and indeed early on I felt
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 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
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
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.
A dark and unusual story about two men Molina and Valentin who share a cell somewhere in Latin America. Molina is a gay man who gets through his days spent visualising old movies. Valentin is the opposite, a revolutionary who thinks only of the cause.

Quite a claustrophobic novel due to the setting and dialogue between the two characters....but it works.

Some twists and turns on offer. Well worth a look at from the Boxall 1000 list.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Okay, so I just read an analysis that says that this is not a gay love story and it was very smart and insightful etc but this so is a gay love story, what do you mean it isn't, shut up

Anyway, this is so layered, and made me cry like a baby, too, so... layers+causes tears=onion? (a bookshelf idea)

Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. That was a strange one and I’m not sure I totally understood the end but I really liked parts of it.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have been gathering my thoughts about this one. I can say that I was completely engrossed from page one. I could touch on many things that others have talked about, but let me just say that this was an intense read. I became a silent member of the cell. I am glad to have read this and will watch the movie with the amazing John Hurt.
Antonio Nunez
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having watched the 1985 film starring William Hurt as Molina and Raul Julia as Valentin, I always intended to read the novel itself. Since this is the first Puig novel I've read I was astounded at how incredibly visual it is. The descriptions of faces, dresses, furniture, buildings and landscapes are so rich as to be almost unbearable. It did me make feel as if though I were partly blind, missing all these features that a writer like Puig conveys so well.

The story first: Molina (a gay middle age
Remember VCR? We had had the movie "Kiss of the Spider Woman" on tape when I was in high-school. It was taped from TV by my parents. But then something else was taped over it, E.R. or My So Called Life, probably, because those were the things we kids watched back then. So, when that episode of the aforementioned E.R. or MSCL ended, the movie begun, but not from the beginning. It was confusing, but very engrossing, so I ended up watching it anyway. And then forgot about it for years. Recently, I ...more
Stephen McQuiggan
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
'This dream is short, but this dream is happy"

In Cell 7, political prisoner Valentin passes the time by listening to his gay cell mate Molina's remembrances of his favourite films. But there are sinister forces at work and, just like the movies, nothing is as it seems. It helps that Molina's movies are some of my favourites. For a novel that takes place in one cramped room, and that consists virtually of a dialogue between two characters, it is absolutely rivetting. The friendship is palpable, a
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Everyone in love with the movies, a good love story, and a simple story of goodness and friendship ought to read this masterpiece. Valentin and Molina make a pair of unlikely lovers whose love, respect, and kindness towards one another and hope make this a powerful and heartbreakingly comic read. It will definitely make you want to turn back to the beginning and start reading once again. Also, its for anyone who loves literature that deals with multicultural and sexual politics, and for any hist ...more
Dec 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
I loathed it.
We did this as a book club read and the description did not inspire me in the slightest.
The style and story left me cold.
I found the translation from Spanish to English added to the stunted feel of the book.
I enjoy to read different books and styles, and the footnotes detract further from the story.
I did feel a sense of satisfaction that I made it to the end but ultimately felt I'd wasted hours of my life I would never get back
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
So this book is about 2 inmates in Buenos Aires and they tell each other stories of films they have seen to pass time in the cell. One of the characters is gay. This was an unconventional book but the flow of the narrative made this book an amazing read. There is also a great twist at the end. It's brilliantly written and very original. ...more
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very different book from what I was expecting. Didn't expect the form, or the plot. I fuzzed out a little here and there, but on the whole I liked it quite a bit. Definitely liked it more than I expected to. ...more
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Club de Lectura: *Conclusiones 4 6 Dec 23, 2019 08:59AM  
Club de Lectura: LT: Contexto histórico 3 2 Dec 10, 2019 07:50PM  
Club de Lectura: LT: La homosexualidad 4 7 Dec 10, 2019 07:06AM  
Club de Lectura: LT: El recurso del relato de películas 4 4 Dec 10, 2019 07:03AM  
Club de Lectura: LT: La soledad compartida 3 3 Dec 10, 2019 05:40AM  
Club de Lectura: * Expectativas 4 6 Nov 25, 2019 04:58AM  
Reading 1001: Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig 4 13 Sep 09, 2019 02:09PM  

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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.

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