A Story of Hair
Historia del pelo
The hero of this black comedy is addicted to hair. He’s got a lot of hair, more hair than he can deal with himself. But he’s scared of losing it, or of putting it in the wrong hands, or of always being obsessed with its demise, or of sacrificing it to fashion at the hands of an incompetent hairdresser. The protagonist is victim of a double trauma:no longer being the luxuriantly coiffured bourgeois blond he once was, and not being able to achieve the militant afro haircut that was fashionable in the 1970s.
Hair is his fetish, his obsession, and a reflection of his frivolous nightmare. But it is also the intense nexus that joins him to three other characters who accompany him throughout this desolate story: Celso, a Paraguayan hairdresser, who cuts his hair beautifully, but who one day disappears without trace swallowed up by the sordid underworld of shaving; Monti, a radical and untrustworthy friend from the past who turns up every now and then to electrify it with extravagant stories and the promise of death; a war veteran, the son of a soldier lost in the jungle, who after decades of European exile, returns to a Buenos Aires and survives by selling drugs to a clientele of spectres.
Meeting and avoiding each other with a capricious regularity, these four castaways from Historia del pelo navigate through their destinies without a destination, discover themselves, help each other out and end up becoming obsessed by the mystery that lies at the heart of the story and of the history of a country: the mysterious fate of a wig once worn by a celebrated guerrilla who kidnapped a military leader, executed him and therefore inaugurated the bloodiest decade in the history of Argentina.
“An elegant and desperate comedy, written with beautiful prose and a cadent style... Historia del pelo ends up becoming a relevant and irreverent novel, that begins a dialogue with the present and ends up flirting with political parody. A book that gets closer to history from the margins and gives it a good makeover” Diego Gándara, La Razón.
"Historia del pelo is an evocative, ironic and brilliant book" Estrella de Diego, El País.
“The story of the search for self-discovery of an aging author and a testament to the passing of time, the Argentinean writer Alan Pauls gives us a beautiful and intimate tale, which is both minimalist and irresistibly entertaining” Emily Barnett, Les Inrokuptibles.
Alan Pauls (Buenos Aires, 1959) is an author, journalist, script writer and cinema critic. He has a BA and was a lecturer of Literary Theory in the Philosophy department of the UBA and the founder of the magazine Lecturas Críticas. He was editor-in-chief of the magazine Página/30 and has also been associate editor of Radar, the Sunday supplement of Página/12, which he continues contributing to regularly.
At the moment he writes a column for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo and organizes the independent cinema season el ciclo Primer Plano for cable I-Sat.
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