The Story of My Teeth

The Story of My Teeth

Book - 2015
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"Luiselli follows in the imaginative tradition of writers like Borges and M#65533;rquez, but her style and concerns are unmistakably her own. This deeply playful novel is about the passion and obsession of collecting, the nature of storytelling, the value of objects, and the complicated bonds of family. . . Luiselli has become a writer to watch, in part because it's truly hard to know (but exciting to wonder about) where she will go next."-- The New York Times

I was born in Pachuca, the Beautiful Windy City, with four premature teeth and my body completely covered in a very fine coat of fuzz. But I'm grateful for that inauspicious start because ugliness, as my other uncle, Eur#65533;pides L#65533;pez S#65533;nchez, was given to saying, is character forming.

Highway is a late-in-life world traveler, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. His most precious possessions are the teeth of the "notorious infamous" like Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf. Written in collaboration with the workers at a Jumex juice factory, Teeth is an elegant, witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli's own literary influences.

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983 and grew up in South Africa. Her work has been translated into many languages and has appeared in publications including the New York Times , Granta , and McSweeney's . Her novel, The Story of My Teeth is the Winner of the LA Times Book Prize in Fiction.

Publisher: Minneapolis : Coffee House Press, 2015.
ISBN: 9781566894098
1566894093
Characteristics: 195 pages :,illustrations ;,21 cm
Additional Contributors: MacSweeney, Christina

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JCLChrisK May 12, 2016

This book is the story of an odd yet oddly compelling eccentric. Gustavo “Highway” Sanchez Sanchez has always been a collector, of everything, from art to books to his father’s fingernail clippings to the teeth of notable authors, philosophers, and celebrities from throughout history. In the second half of his life he discovers a purpose for his obsession, starting a second career as an auctioneer buying and selling collectibles. He doesn’t consider himself an auctioneer in the traditional mode, however, and intends to revolutionize the pursuit.

Highway sells stories. Readers who spend enough time with him will realize that he has a very fluid and flexible approach to the concept of truth. If he can craft a story that raises an object’s value, make claims about its history that might not be entirely accurate or verifiable, he will. The story of his teeth—his “dental autobiography,” as he calls it, though simply “autobiography” might be more accurate—is curiously engaging because of his ability to spin yarns. It’s up to readers to decide how much they want to trust what he says as true.

Luiselli has done more than create an entertaining tale. In her afterword she calls it a “novel-essay.” Highway is a vehicle for considering how perspective, meaning, and value are created and propagated. The book’s form is unusual and full of references to artists and thinkers (including at least one to herself, shared below). It is as strange and intriguing as the character she has created to tell it. I’m not sure I understood everything there is to understand about the book, but I know I enjoyed and appreciated it.

m
mclarjh
Jan 20, 2016

Terrific modern storytelling.

multcolib_alisonk May 20, 2015

I've never read anything quite like this odd tale of man whose obsession with auctioneering is only exceeded by his attraction to teeth - other people's - once they are removed from the original owners' heads.
The story has the feel of wandering around an abandoned museum filled with peculiarities that are bizarre and vaguely unsettling. Comparisons are difficult - Graham Greene and Chuck Palahniuk come to mind. If you enjoy a strong sense of place, good writing, and don't necessarily need to like your characters to engage with them, this might be the book for you.

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JCLChrisK May 12, 2016

Places and things are made up of stories.

JCLChrisK May 12, 2016

I wasn’t just a lowly seller of objects but, first and foremost, a lover and collector of good stories, which is the only honest way of modifying the value of an object.

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