The Story of My Teeth

The Story of My Teeth

Book - 2015
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Gustavo 'Highway' Sanchez 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.
Publisher: London : Granta Books, 2015.
Branch Call Number: FICTION
Characteristics: 188 p. ;,21 cm.
Additional Contributors: MacSweeney, Christina

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From Library Staff

List - Best Reads 2015
robertafsmith Jan 22, 2015

This was my most unusual read of the year. A tale of eccentricity, auctions and teeth, it is translated from Spanish and is the author's first book.


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kyletmorales
Mar 12, 2018

Such a unique book. I did find myself a bit disinterested during some of the longer auction sections, which are essentially unrelated bits of story stories, but this novel is bold and artistic

JCLChrisK May 12, 2016

This book is the story of an odd yet oddly compelling eccentric. Gustavo “Highway” Sanchez Sanchez has always been a collector, of everything, from art to books to his father’s fingernail clippings to the teeth of notable authors, philosophers, and celebrities from throughout history. In the second half of his life he discovers a purpose for his obsession, starting a second career as an auctioneer buying and selling collectibles. He doesn’t consider himself an auctioneer in the traditional mode, however, and intends to revolutionize the pursuit.

Highway sells stories. Readers who spend enough time with him will realize that he has a very fluid and flexible approach to the concept of truth. If he can craft a story that raises an object’s value, make claims about its history that might not be entirely accurate or verifiable, he will. The story of his teeth—his “dental autobiography,” as he calls it, though simply “autobiography” might be more accurate—is curiously engaging because of his ability to spin yarns. It’s up to readers to decide how much they want to trust what he says as true.

Luiselli has done more than create an entertaining tale. In her afterword she calls it a “novel-essay.” Highway is a vehicle for considering how perspective, meaning, and value are created and propagated. The book’s form is unusual and full of references to artists and thinkers (including at least one to herself, shared below). It is as strange and intriguing as the character she has created to tell it. I’m not sure I understood everything there is to understand about the book, but I know I enjoyed and appreciated it.

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mclarjh
Jan 20, 2016

Terrific modern storytelling.

multcolib_alisonk May 20, 2015

I've never read anything quite like this odd tale of man whose obsession with auctioneering is only exceeded by his attraction to teeth - other people's - once they are removed from the original owners' heads.
The story has the feel of wandering around an abandoned museum filled with peculiarities that are bizarre and vaguely unsettling. Comparisons are difficult - Graham Greene and Chuck Palahniuk come to mind. If you enjoy a strong sense of place, good writing, and don't necessarily need to like your characters to engage with them, this might be the book for you.

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JCLChrisK May 12, 2016

Places and things are made up of stories.

JCLChrisK May 12, 2016

I wasn’t just a lowly seller of objects but, first and foremost, a lover and collector of good stories, which is the only honest way of modifying the value of an object.

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