- Published: 07/04/2016
- ISBN: 9781783780822
- 208 pages
The Story of My Teeth
Translated by Christina MacSweeney
Gustavo ‘Highway’ Sánchez is a man with a mission: he is planning to replace every last one of his unsightly teeth. He has a few skills that might help him on his way: he can imitate Janis Joplin after two rums, he can interpret Chinese fortune cookies, he can stand an egg upright on a table, and he can float on his back. And, of course, he is the world’s best auction caller – although other people might not realise this, because he is, by nature, very discreet.
Studying auctioneering under Grandmaster Oklahoma and the famous country singer Leroy Van Dyke, Highway travels the world, amassing his collection of ‘Collectibles’ and perfecting his own specialty: the allegoric auction. In his quest for a perfect set of pearly whites, he finds unusual ways to raise the funds, culminating in the sale of the jewels of his collection: the teeth of the ‘notorious infamous’ – Plato, Petrarch, Chesterton, Virginia Woolf et al.
Written with elegance, wit and exhilarating boldness, Valeria Luiselli takes us on an idiosyncratic and hugely enjoyable journey that offers an insightful meditation on value, worth and creation, and the points at which they overlap.
[Luiselli is a] gifted young Mexican writer... [The Story of My Teeth] is like a papier-mâché figurine: the story of a life told as an assemblage of quotation, anecdotes, famous names and auctioneer's lots. It's a clever trick - producing both a slim magical realist 'essay-novel' and simultaneously a dense, allegorical art object... The effect is quite moving
Philip Maughan, Literary Review
A combination of memoir, fiction, art criticism and autobiographical reflection, this is a remarkable story about stories... The Story of My Teeth is a testament to eccentricity. If eccentricity is deviation from a known curve, then Luiselli has created an exceptional 'novel-essay' that irradiates beyond the orthodoxies of literary genre
Natalie Ferris, Frieze
Postmodernism has barely begun to look retro and here it is again, subtly restyled in [The Story of My Teeth]... The prose is confident, playful, learned; and it is translated into utterly convincing English via Luiselli's collaboration with Christina MacSweeney
Claire Lowden, TLS
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‘Perhaps it is the way he’s able to delicately tap into the most disturbing layers of reality and turn our conception of what is normal inside out. Perhaps it’s because he’s always telling a deeper, sadder, more disquieting story while pretending to narrate another.’