The Story of My Teeth

Thoughts tsomtbyvl The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, Coffee House Press 2015 (orig 2013), 184 pages

Translated from Spanish to English by Christina MacSweeney.

Challenge: The last of my Rooster reading attempts… til I try anticipating what might make the short list of NEXT year!
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback/Library 14 day loan, extended (since no one was waiting for it.)
 Why I read this now: it’s March! It’s TOB!! It’s the ROOSTER!!!

MOTIVATION for READING: Upon first hearing of this book, I didn’t think I was interested but as the TOB commentary remarked on its novelty AND that the character is one of an elderly persuasion (I love the cranky old geezer and lady who wears purple), I put it on hold at the library. I really do think I might have placed ALL the short list on hold at the library but I am wondering if some weren’t available at the initial time frame of “short list”. I don’t make very accurate records on such.

ALSO, there are aspects about this book that are beyond the story of the book. Will explain soon.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: It’s funny and sad. Our protagonist is an auctioneer who has perfected — nay, made an art form — of the STORY that goes along with an item that is auctioned. Indeed, believes the story attached to the item makes the item more valuable. This book is about art, the value of art and the value of stories. Highway (nickname for our auctioneer protag) has a son and a long life travel story, and an interesting ‘collection’ from his travels over those years… He is given one last auction opportunity to test his story-value-makes-the-item theory. His collection, his ultimate collection, is teeth of famous people.

This book is tremendously artful and creative. It will appeal to an artful creative kind of reader.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s funny and sad. Highway is a believer.

What’s NOT so good: It’s funny and sad. Highway has to deal with life. It is, yes, so very odd. It is cerebral, it is creative, it is confusing and fascinating.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I can’t quite tell which of you are the right reader to recommend this to and yet I truly believe many just might find it oddly charming as I did. I know a few of you would eat this up and think it brilliant. I also think more of you will find it odd and missing of something concrete. It’s artsy. It really reiterates that the power of words strung together IS art. Construct. Creative. Especially when you hear about the story of how this story came to be…

Please do consider that this work of art, this story, was commissioned AS art and thus it has that metaphysical element of enchantment. Yep, I did say that; I said it.

RATING: Four slices of pie. (no noted mention of pie…)




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15 thoughts on “The Story of My Teeth

  1. So many bloggers I enjoy have said good things about this – it’s still on my TBR but I don’t know when I’ll get to it!

    (I like trying to anticipate what will be on the next year’s Rooster list. I didn’t have much on this year’s list read, since I was doing a read-your-own-books challenge from Jan – March.)

    1. This was only my second or third – probably third year and I get more and more obsessed each time. I think I went overboard this year… in a fabulous way. Not complaining.

    1. The word might be incorrectly used, the more I think about it. I just meant that the story somewhat entwines how it came to be within the ending where the realities fuse with fiction– it was commissioned by an organization that promotes art. It is hard to explain simply. I found it fascinating and this part made it all more enjoyable.

  2. Hmmm…I see two possible scenarios: 1) I would either find this as utterly oddly charming as you do or 2) I would for the umpteenth time in my life find myself wondering why I’m not smart enough to “get” it. Definitely sounds like a gamble worth taking.

  3. I would say that if the reader enjoys a generous helping of WTF moments in their fiction, they might enjoy this one. It definitely creates some indelible moments, particularly the clown room.

    1. Oh yes, the clown room. I have a few people I want to suggest just for these/this scene but I also think they might be the worst at accepting the charm. oh the dilemma!

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