The Story of My Teeth by Valeria LuiselliI 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 Im grateful for that inauspicious start because ugliness, as my other uncle, Eurípides López Sánchez, 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 Luisellis own literary influences.
Valeria Luiselli: 2015 National Book Festival
The Empty Spaces: The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli
Coffee House Press. His art is based on the hyperbolic method, namely, the exaggeration of facts about an item or, as he puts it, a better illumination of its qualities. Highway is no cheap trickster: he happily goes along with other masters of the hyperbolic method, to the point of buying teeth that allegedly belonged to Marilyn Monroe and having them transplanted into his mouth. In turn, he sells his own teeth one by one, claiming that they once belonged to famous writers and philosophers from Plato to Enrique Vila-Matas. Not only does Highway justify forgery, he also happily engages in plagiarism—in other words, intertextuality. It is the result of meaningful engagement not only with literary giants but with the real world as well, an engagement that connects this otherwise lighthearted and elusive little book to the ground, injecting fresh blood into postmodern techniques. As Luiselli explains in her afterword, she was originally commissioned to write a work of fiction for the exhibition catalog of an art gallery that is funded by a juice factory.
Highway is a late-in-life world traveller, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. Surprising and charming. It is a testament to not only the work that goes into translation, but also to the value of storytelling in a world that sometimes seems to commodify authenticity through our all-access lifestyle. Highly recommend. Tthe whole book is a kind of extended commentary on how possessions acquire value largely through the stories we tell about them. A clever philosophical novel that, as the author puts it, has "less to do with lying than surpassing the truth. A work of immense charm and originality, written in vivid, witty prose.
Then he takes his profits and buys a set of teeth that supposedly belonged to Marilyn Monroe, implanting them in his own mouth. Eventually Highway runs into a man named Voragine an abyss? There are other whiffs of philosophy, philology and excursions into other short tales as well. Then, just about the time a reader may ask where all of this is heading, the narrative stops cold and the book gets really interesting. With about 40 pages left, we are presented with a series of photos, slightly puzzling, each accompanied with a quotation by, for example, H. There is something thrilling about finding a writer generous enough to invite another to participate in her work, and it is at this point that the book blooms into an entirely different creation.
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Luiselli herself has addressed the question, explaining that she was curious about — even motivated by — the idea of context and recognition versus unfamiliarity when writing this book. If her novel is a map, the route it will suggest for a reader who possesses few existing landmarks to Mexican culture will be quite different than that laid out for a reader with many, firmly planted ones. But maybe those routes will all lead to a similar place — one of shared enjoyment, if not shared concerns about a particular place, a Mexico made more of fiction than of fact.