Marcelo Ballvé at The Quarterly Conversation:
It’s difficult to find adjectives that will bear the full oddity of Mario Bellatín’s books. But it’s at least possible to say they are remarkably elastic—usually slim in size but containing a stretched-waistband world of absurd characters, uncanny scenarios, and endless transformations.
In Bellatín’s accounts of reality, nothing remains what it is for very long, nothing is cataloged properly or fixed in place. Soon enough it shifts shape, or inverts. Male to female, fanged to toothless, indecent to prim, alive to dead; Central Europe becomes California, a beauty salon an aquarium and a hospice, a roadhouse an underground railroad for Jewish refugees.
An impending transformation is at the center of Bellatín’s fictionalized autobiography, The Large Glass. In “My Skin, Luminous,” a young boy is brought to a claustrophobic convent-like bathhouse for the exhibition of his oddities, including his prodigious testicles and glowing skin. In exchange, he receives gifts. Near the end, he suffers, knowing one day he will lose his remarkable qualities. He will become less shapely, his skin more dull. He will change again. When the show ends, so will his rewards.