Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig

by Feb 12, 2019Queer Syllabus

The Queer Syllabus is a joint project from The Rumpus and Foglifter Press that allows writers to nominate works for a new canon of queer literature. When we identify our roots, when we point to the work that shaped us as writers and as people, we demonstrate that our stories are timeless, essential, and important—and so are we. The Queer Syllabus is edited by Wesley O. Cohen and Marisa Siegel.

 

“I feel the need to tell stories to understand myself,” Molina explains of their constant need for escapism from the cell they share with Valentin by telling movie plots, ones that have fantastical plots and the promise of love. As one of my favorite novels, “Kiss of the Spider Woman” is my ideal choice for the queer syllabus. The novel had the English translation started before the original was published in Buenos Aires, due to it being deemed unfit to be consumed by the public because of its political intentions. Puig wished to bring an objective view of homosexuality and combat traditional views through factual footnotes on the psychoanalytic theory of homosexuality. The novel is an experimental force, as it lacks a traditional narrative voice and the dialogue never indicates the speaker, blurring the lines between Molina and Valentin and the binaries they inhabit.

What draws me back to this novel every time is how it plays with the binaries of identity, as each character seems to shift their identity and inhabit spaces they seem to be strongly against, such as when Molina helps the revolutionaries, even though they would rather not be involved at all. Molina’s dual identity as both a self-proclaimed gay man and a woman demonstrates their fluidity in both gender and sexuality as they inhabit different binaries in reality and in the articulation their fantasies. As Puig constantly deconstructs gender roles, political positions, and even realist or idealist positions, he creates a dialectic on the deconstruction of fixed binary ideological systems by giving marginalized groups a platform to enter the dialogue.

When I first read this book, I was beginning to question binary ways of thinking and how they restricted me in terms of my own identity. Then I read, “And what’s so bad about being soft like a woman? Why is it men or whoever, some poor bastard, some queen, can’t be sensitive too, if he’s got a mind to,” and I began to realize that my idea of masculinity did not have to be so divorced from that of femininity. This novel is on my queer syllabus not only because of its historical and revolutionary significance, but also because of its ability to shift perspective and focal point in several directions like an experimental film.

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Wow! We had the best time at this past Sunday's reading with the San Francisco Public Library Thank you so much to our fantastic readers—@emo.ocean (Lio Min), @real_james_cagney, @charliejaneanders, and Lydia Elias—for sharing their incredible writing and starting a warm dialogue on the importance of queer spaces.We'd also like to give a huge shoutout to the amazing folks who helped make our event as accessible as possible! Thank you to our ASL interpreters Heidi Woelbling and Benny Llamas, and to our live-captioner Jen Schuck. We're so grateful for your hard work!Keep an eye out for a recording of this event on the SFPL Youtube page! We'll announce when it's ready. Until then, please go follow and support these writers and their work!Image Description: A screenshot of a Zoom room with Lio Min, James Cagney, Lydia Elias, and Charlie Jane Anders. They are all smiling and listening to each other. There is some closed captioning towards the bottom, that says "I'm really struck by how much vulnerability you all shared. As a writer, I'm curious how you know when you're ready to put a story to the page?" End description. ... See MoreSee Less
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Our virtual reading with the San Francisco Public Library is tomorrow! Join us at 2PM PT for Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling.This fantastic event will feature James Cagney, Lio Min, Charlie Jane Anders, and Lydia Elias! RSVP here: on.sfpl.org/foglifterFoglifter is excited to collaborate with @sfpubliclibrary for Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling! Join us on Sunday, September 25th at 2PM PT for a virtual reading with @charliejaneanders, @emo.ocean, @real_james_cagney, Lydia Elias. In mainstream society, when we hear the word "generations" we may immediately presume biological progeniture. In the Queer/trans community, however, generations can refer to chosen family, drag mothers, drag dads, ball houses, aesthetic legacies, just to name a few. In either context, generations suggest an era. Foglifter has invited four writers—Charlie Jane Anders, James Cagney, Lydia Elias, and Lio Min—who span generations to illustrate their "era" and the power of queer/trans literature. Live-captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. RSVP here: on.sfpl.org/foglifterSee you then! Image Description: This is an invitation for the reading, “Generational Treasures: An Afternoon of Queer and Trans Storytelling,” presented by the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center & Foglifter Journal and Press. This free and virtual reading will take place on Sunday, September 25th at 2PM PT. The photos of James Cagney, Lio Min, Charlie Jane Anders, and Lydia Elias are in the middle of the graphic. The SFPL and Foglifter logos are on the bottom. This background has a colorful gradient of pastel hues and various shapes and swirls, with a square containing all of the text and photos in the middle. ... See MoreSee Less
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There's just ONE WEEK until IT CAME FROM THE CLOSET is available wherever books are sold!!! Have you ordered your copy yet? https://bit.ly/3xAnz9k @joevallese @homohorror

WWS Around Town: This Saturday join this workshop with traci kato-kiriyama (@traciakemi) at @BBLitArts from 12pm-4pm.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/navigating-without-instruments-a-workshop-with-traci-kato-kiriyama-tickets-400498530887

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