Published: 2 April 2015
Hardback, B Format
129x198mm, 208 pages
The Story of My Teeth
Published: 2 April 2015
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.
‘[The Story of My Teeth] blur[s] the line between the real and the imagined. Sánchez's voice is an engaging one... [full of] Luiselli's wit’ Paul Gould
‘[A] delightfully unclassifiable novel... There is an insatiable hunger for storytelling in these pages... it's difficult not to follow wherever it takes you’
‘[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
‘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
‘An unusual and engaging creation with [a] light touch’ Tim Groenland
‘Forms and genres collide in this often hilarious experimental fiction from one of our most consistent young writers. It tells the story of an auctioneer and his collection of teeth, but it doubles as a kind of labor theory of art and writing’ 50 Best Independent Press books of 2015
‘Noticeable is the formal experimentation - the blending and splicing of genres - in the part-essay, part-fictive writings of Luiselli’ Arifa Akbar (editorial mention)
‘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
‘The playfully brilliant The Story of My Teeth follows an auctioneer as he collects both stories and strange items (including what he claims are the teeth of Virginia Woolf). The story behind the book is also fascinating - Luiselli wrote it in collaboration with workers at the Jumex juice factory in Mexico’ Books We Loved in 2015
‘This playful collaborative novel invites reader participation’ Books of the Year 2015