Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Story of My Teeth

The Story of My Teeth, by Valeria Luiselli

Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez, otherwise known as 'Highway,' has a career change in mid-life and becomes an auctioneer and collector.  Not just any auctioneer, but a legend and story-spinner, who can auction anything by using the auctioneering styles he has learned and invented: hyperbolic, parabolic, allegoric, and more.  Having bought Marilyn Monroe's teeth and implanted them in place of his own, he decides to auction off his original teeth as historical artifacts from famous people.  And then his estranged son steals his teeth and imprisons him in a room with scary video clowns...

I am not even kidding about that last one.  This is a surreal novel that reminds me a lot of Mario Bellatin's Shiki Nagaoka.  Bellatin even makes an appearance here, along with many other literary figures, or sometimes just their names attached to other characters.  Highway has an uncle named Juan Pablo Sánchez Sartre. There are a lot of people named Sánchez.

Luiselli wrote the novel in parts, having them read aloud to workers at a juice factory, who then gave input and added their own experiences to the story.  The read-alouds were an idea from a job that used to exist all over Latin America: the tobacco reader, who would read aloud to cigarette and cigar rollers.  

It's a pretty strange novel, and I kind of liked it, though on the whole I'm not sure how I feel about the current massive crop of surrealist fiction.  I guess maybe the world is so strange now that surrealism feels like a good response?  Discuss.


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This is my last 20 Books of Summer title, and a WIT August book as well!  A good way to finish off.

4 comments:

cleopatra said...

Okaaaaaay ....... I'm curious about the psyche that would think up such a bizarre plot. Actually I'm not. I don't want to know about it ...... I'll just meander back to my classics ...... ;-)

Jean said...

Apparently the clowns were a real art installation somewhere. There are photos of the setting near the end of the book, and that's one of them.

Kristen M. said...

I'm not sure I would have ever even picked this one up! Surrealism is a tough one for me because I always want to know WHY something happens or is the way it is. I'm sure I could be tempted though with just the right story.

Jean said...

I sometimes really love it, and other times not so much. I guess I'm picky?