¡Best Friends 4ever! A review of Belleza y Felicidad

bellezaReading Belleza y Felicidad (Sand Paper Press) is like listening to a funny/sexy/serious/gorgeous phone conversation between best friends. In this case, the friends are Argentinian writers/artists Fernanda Laguna and Cecilia Pavón, with translation by Stuart Krimko.

Laguna and Pavón’s friendship began when Pavón attended an exhibition of Laguna’s visual art in Buenos Aires.

The alchemy generated by their first conversations eventually led to the desire to create a spatial dimension for the writing and art they were making. It quickly took shape as a physical location, a storefront gallery and art-supply store….Belleza y Felicidad [the name of the gallery as well as this book] soon came to represent a refuge in real space as a well as an important node in the realm of the imagination….The place operated as if it were really an excuse to recreate a new category of literature; the gallery was, itself, the art (xi).

When you can create as well as work alongside your friend, you know you have a true friendship—one of life’s greatest joys. Unlike romantic relationships, being BFFs is socially optional. You both choose what frequency/duration/with what level of vulnerability—and you choose each other every time you hang out.

bff2You can talk to her about crushes, exes, work shit, rape culture, Etsy finds, and Broad City. She’s there for you despite time and/or distance, about any and everything. Throughout their text/conversation, Laguna and Pavón share an anxiety about their art and being artists.


I’m going to write a realist novel. Right now!

I’ll do it, I will! No matter what it takes.

Because my style runs the risk of repeating itself

and repeating itself and being boring and getting stuck in the world of fantasy… (83).


I want to be a poet

poet, poet, poet

poet, poet, poet

not a novelist

not an essayist…

I don’t want to pursue a career

I don’t want to win a scholarship for a workshop

I want to be a poet (235).

Laguna tires of repeating her style while Pavón literally repeats her aspirations to be a poet. They share an interest but manifest it with individual nuance.


I want to write a poem

that’s like being at a party

with eyes full of tears

facing the dance judges.

In some corner of the floor

overcome by my pain.

Covered in worms,


shit all over me,

pissed on,


Coagulated menstrual blood overflowing my panties

with my pad so full it goes fz-fz-fz… (95).


I was afraid of you too Fernanda.

When I was traveling I wrote a poem about you, it was called

“Fernanda’s House”

but I lost it. I can tell you parts of it, it went something like this:

I’m looking for music for going into Fernanda’s house

the stairway, the hallway, the plants, the table

I’m looking for music for talking about Fernanda’s house… (233).

Both artists share an interest in surrealism—Laguna wanders into the profane/sexual while Pavón drifts into a de Chirico-esque landscape. Yet despite this interest in the surreal, they both enjoy being objective or “realist” as well.


She’ll write a realist story,

she’ll take examples from reality

that are most “that,” as thing-like as they can be.

A story in which there isn’t a single element that has a double meaning (85).


We looked at each other and hugged each other and it was athletic sex

and again we looked at each other and hugged each other

and I sat down in the armchair

and opened my legs and I was dressed

and it was athletic sex

and then I looked at him stretched out in the chair

his legs his shoulders

and once again

athletic sex athletic sex… (249).

They both say that which is—Laguna via process and Pavón through repetition—with humor. But how to end this conversation? Circling back to being an artist—what’s it all for? Why art? Why why?


When a female human being thinks

she thinks

about whether she is a human being or not.

A woman believes that she is so bright

that therefore she doesn’t know what she wants.

A woman believes she has to be smart

that the rest of the world has to convince itself she’s a stupid person because deep down she believes that the more she’s cast aside

the freer and happier she’ll be.

And so she finds

meaning in her sadness or her lost time.

Or something like that…I don’t know.

Anyway…it’s very difficult to finish a poem

and give it a fixed meaning.

But it came out ok, right?

A woman is someone like me, for example (113).


Annihilation comes in through the door

and looks at everything with tits great eyes of lava,

we sink to our knees,

we unbutton our shirts,

it hurls two bolts,

one for Fernanda

and one for me

that go straight to our hearts.

it’s pure electricity.

There are many words written on the gallery walls,

the world love among them.

Love, Love, Love… (211).

Laguna looks at the end and finds herself looking at her self, a simultaneity of subject/object. Pavón sees the end cinematically—a grand scene of apocalypse/rapture, replete with love and friendship. Laguna implodes while Pavón bursts out—both electric with love.

bffs ceci-fer

Image via loveartnotpeople.org

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