Beauty Salon

Beauty Salon
Translated by Kurt Hollander

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Human Currency in Mexico's Drug Trade

"IN Mexico, there is a strange practice known as the 'art of renting.' If you're arrested for drunken driving, for example, you can pay someone to spend two nights in jail in your place. Some hospitals require that a relative be on hand for each patient, so I have seen old women hire themselves out to sit in waiting rooms pretending to be mothers and wives. It’s rumored that childless adults who want to visit the Children’s Museum here, on days when grownups must be accompanied by minors to enter, can rent a child outside the entrance.

In much the same way, you can rent people to beat up or kill your enemy or lend their names as signatories for your shady business deals. I’ve often thought of renting another person to write under my name. Then someone else would have to address the drug-related violence, like the killing of an American consulate worker and her husband this month in Ciudad Juárez. Hillary Clinton met with our president, Felipe Calderón, last week to discuss a new counternarcotics strategy. Perhaps the writer impersonating me would be able to muster some enthusiasm about the results."

-Mario Bellatin, The New York Times Mar 27, 2010

2011 Over the Rainbow Book List

"The Over the Rainbow readers are VERY PROUD to announce
their inaugural list of 108 books. We would also like to mention our top ten favorites, which turned into eleven titles because there were just so many really excellent books published this year."

-blogando, Jan 9, 2011

The man who wanted to reinvent literature

"Mario Bellatin plays with time and space in his books, wanders the world and eludes realism. Bellatin is a remarkable and radical Mexican novelist, who visited Israel last month on the occasion of the first Hebrew publication of his work 'Beauty Salon / Chinese Checkers' (Carmel Publishing House), which contains two novellas originally published in the mid-1990s.

Haaretz spoke with the writer the day after his meeting with readers at the Cervantes Institute in Tel Aviv, and just prior to a luncheon at the home of the Mexican ambassador."

-Maya Sela, Dec 31, 2009

World Books Interview: Death and the Beauty Salon

"The World's Bill Marx e-mailed Mario Bellatín some questions about the novel and his literary views. Christopher van Ginhoven provided the English translation.

The World: In what ways is 'Beauty Salon' representative of your work? Many critics talk about your impishness as a writer, but this short work feels disturbingly serious.

Bellatín: I pretty much wrote this book in a state of unconsciousness, while recovering from an emotional crisis, so that many of its characteristics became apparent to me only after it was finished. Curiously, I discovered that the book had become the repository of a series of motifs I’d been working on almost since my childhood, for instance, the loquacity of silence, the creation of closed, self-contained worlds, ruled only by their own rules, and the body as a central element of these universes—in my view, the more luminous the more abject."

-Bill Marx, The World Aug 31, 2009

Writing without Writing: On Mario Bellatin

Mario Bellatin's new novella Beauty Salon, translated by Kurt Hollander and published this July by City Lights, is the haunting tale of beauty salon turned death parlor, named the Terminal by its homosexual owner and former stylist, for men dying from an unnamed plague... To celebrate the release of Beauty Salon, Molossus presents an interview with Bellatin, from early 2007, a new portrait of Bellatin by Laura Peters, and another 2007 interview, this one with Cooper Renner and about translating Chinese Checkers.

-Molossus Aug 15, 2009

Meet Mario Bellatin

"In the New York Times Books section last week, a fascinating portrayal of Mario Bellatin, one of the leading, experimental writers in Mexico.

'Mr. Bellatin himself is missing much of his right arm, the result of a birth defect that he says he "plays with, takes advantage of and acknowledges" in his work by “writing with my whole body.” He jokes about “my left hand knoweth not what my right hand doeth,” and depending on his mood, he sometimes appears in public wearing a prosthesis with an attachment, chosen from his collection of more than a dozen, that gives him the appearance of Captain Hook.'

Beauty Salon and Chinese Checkers are available in English translations and I look forward to procuring them. In the meantime, check out Shawna Ryan's Rumpus review of Beauty Salon."

-Michael Berger, The Rumpus Aug 13, 2009

Chinese Checkers: Three Novels by Mario Bellatin

"With the upcoming translation of Bellatin's more internationally known Beauty Salon (it was a finalist for the Médicis Prize in France) from City Lights Book[s], this author will hopefully soon be receiving more of the attention he deserves. In literature unlike plastic arts there is no reward for spotting new talent, except perhaps a good translation; unfortunately, sometimes not even new talent is afforded that."

-J.M. Mills, La Movida Literaria Jan 28, 2009

Degeneration in the Fiction of Mario Bellatin

"'No symbols where none intended,' Beckett admonishes all who would hope to wrest from a fictional text a meaning laid down, deliberately or not, in its images. Written by Mexican author Mario Bellatin and transparently rendered into English by Cooper Renner, 'Chinese Checkers' seems to be a story whose mysterious unfolding might be illuminated by a study of its symbols. There appear to be several of significance in this, the eponymous fiction of a collection appearing for the first time in English, from Ravenna Press. My use of the conditional accords well with Beckett's injunction, which allows symbols but does not insist on them, and the story’s narrator, whose strategy is one of disengagement. Before considering the narrator, let us regard the title Bellatin chose to give his story in the light of a possible meaning for his text, never forgetting Beckett’s caution."

-Norman Lock, 5cense Review Jan 28, 2009

Chinese Checkers: Three Fictions by Mario Bellatin, translated by Cooper Renner

"When I first began reading Roberto Bolaño before he had been translated into English, I felt uncomfortably zealous: on one hand I wanted to keep him secret and on the other I couldn't help but tell my friends. I have the same feeling about Mexican author Mario Bellatin; however, unlike Bolaño, we won't have to wait for his death to read him in English, as Rene Cooper has already translated three of his novellas in one volume, Chinese Checkers: Three Fictions."

-Jesse Tangen-Mills, Bookslut Dec 1, 2008