Puig, Manuel 1932–
Puig is a gifted Argentine satirical novelist whose usual target is vacuous middle-class romanticism. (See also CLC, Vols. 3, 5, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 45-48.)
Boquitas pintadas is Manuel Puig's second novel, and it treads much the same genteel Chekhovian ground as his first book, La traición de Rita Hayworth [Betrayed by Rita Hayworth]. Sr. Puig describes an environment that has scarcely been touched in Latin-American fiction up to now, outside the photo-novel and the newspaper serial: the lives and loves of the self-respecting lower-middle-classes in the provinces. With a blend of cruelty and compassion, he listens in to the telephone conversations of teenage girls, and snoops in their hectically emotional diaries, photograph albums and private letters. Some of his characters—the pompous husband with a heart of gold, the wronged, pregnant maid—border on cliché. Yet the novel is so fertile in surprises and so humorously written that the clichés are forgiven—being perhaps a necessary part of the parody….
Much of Boquitas pintadas is, indeed, a parody of popular literature and music, the news media in the provinces and, in general, the considerable degree of inarticulateness of provincial Argentines, particularly when they are trying to impress. Though limited in scope, Boquitas pintadas emerges as one of the most delightful novels written in Spanish in recent years.
"Provincial People," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1970; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), November 6, 1970, p. 1306.