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The Story of My Teeth

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  7,051 ratings  ·  1,113 reviews
I 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 I'm 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
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Coffee House Press (first published November 2013)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,051 ratings  ·  1,113 reviews

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Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Emir Never
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Follow this career
My luck was without equal, my life was a poem, and I was certain that one day, someone was going to write the beautiful tale of my dental autobiography.

Literature has a unique role in the discussions of truth and ideas. When we tell a story we dress the themes and messages up in an elegant wardrobe of fiction and send them out to seduce the audience. Fiction and lying may seem like blood-relations, yet the major function of a lie is to deceive while fiction’s function is to illuminate. The stori
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
3 "humorous, creative but also tedious" stars !!

Most(est) Fun Review Written in 2020 Award

I have to keep this review short. This is one of my BFs favorite books. He has read this five times and has badgered me to read this for years. He loves this book and mentions it often, brings it up at dinner parties, at galleries, on the bus and sings about it in the shower. He needs me to worship this novel and I, alas, simply cannot. Even drinking eight daiquiris on the Beach in Belize did not make me l
The story of my teeth: a recollection in six installments

The first story is one my mother used to tell, and which I listened to with more attention than to other family stories because in this one I was the main character. It seems that when I was about three, there was a gathering at our home to honour my father's great aunt who was celebrating her ninetieth birthday. One of the relatives brought along a tape recorder to record the old lady's reminiscences but she refused to speak into the 'mac
Lee Klein
Your typical one-star/five-star split so I'm sitting out the provision of stars for this one. Iridescent and irritating, admirable and abominable, loved it, hated it, made me want to read a thriller sans pics, chronology, fortune cookies, kitschy collectibles, literary reference. Never believed in Highway's existence even if disbelief was intentional. Interesting which writers get mentioned in books like these (a genre is forming -- someone's probably already written an essay and named it): Borg ...more
Rae Meadows
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
I think I was really taken with the title of this one, but I probably should have read more about it. It really wasn't for me. I found it mildy amusing at best and really just finished it to finish it. It fits into a tradition of Latin American surrealist/absurdist literature--and I like the story behind it of a collaboration with workers at a juice factory--but this ode to storytelling didn't do much for me. Calling it a novel is pushing it. ...more
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
About 10 pages into his book I was going to consign it to the Do Not Finish section of my library (actually I got it from the public library but you catch my drift… 😉). But I didn’t do a DNF…I kept on going and I am glad I did! This is such a hard book to describe or characterize. Even one of the reviewers’ blurbs at the beginning of the book said as much: “Wonderful and strange, ‘The Story of my Teeth’ transgresses against straightforward storytelling by witnessing and remixing to make somethin ...more
Juan Morín
Sep 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
Pieces of text commissioned by an art gallery from giant industrial juice company Jumex, that should tell you something. The great authors of history never treated a novel as a custom-made product, but as an exploration of the human condition.

I find the story of the genesis of this product (book) disturbing: so the original idea was to explore the relation between factory workers and their surroundings with the art gallery, Instead of that we get a postmodern exposition of writers that Luiselli
Aug 13, 2019 rated it did not like it

Something is happening here and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?


This book is as incomprehensible to me as Bob Dylan was to our parents, and to our children. Nobody got Dylan, like we got Dylan, and so the best I can hope for the story of {his} teeth is that somebody "gets" it -- but not like Adriana La Cerva got it, please god!

I can't for the life of me comprehend what/why/where/when/who ... and wtf for?

The best I can offer is Luiselli's own explanation:

This book is the
Dave Schaafsma
My three/four star rating is on the fence. I think I don't know enough yet to really review it, so I confess I will have to investigate further. I need to hear more about her and from critics that know more about the situation she is writing about.

I heard about this book from many Best of 2015 lists, and liked the concept of the book: The sort of fabulist tale of an auctioneer, Gustavo "Highway" Sanchez, who is actually an auctioneer of famous people's teeth. The text is part novel, part meditat

My Teeth

My teeth
Are younger than I am
Yet crumble away
Inside my head.

My eyes
(My age)
Grow dim.

My feet
No younger than I

Have taken me
A journey
To mountain tops
Through forest glades
Along seashores
Up stone steps
Over bridges
And no return

The hips grate
The knees creak
But the feet
Go on.

Paul Fulcher
May 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
I’m the best auctioneer in the world, but no one knows it because I’m a discreet sort of man. My name is Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez, though people call me Highway, I believe with affection. I can imitate Janis Joplin after two rums. I can interpret Chinese fortune cookies. I can stand an egg upright on a table, the way Christopher Columbus did in the famous anecdote. I know how to count to eight in Japanese: ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi. I can float on my back.

This is the story of my
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: hype
A novel's narrator introduces himself as 'charismatic': on the page, this would alert the reader to suspect a buffoon, and unreliability. From the voice of a professional audiobook reader, however, there is more doubt - the correlation between sound and assertion seems like a statement of believeable positive qualities, similar to what's found on a CV or job application. And when an author has created an opposite-sex narrator, does hearing the story from someone whose gender corresponds to the n ...more
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, translation
with faces in the crowd , it seemed rather evident that we'd only begun to see the depths of valeria luiselli's literary talents - given that the young mexican author is barely into her 30s. the story of my teeth (la historia de mis dientes), happily, is as imaginative and richly conceived a novel as her first.

if vila-matas, aira, and borges (all of whom figure into the tale) had collaborated together on a book about a storytelling auctioneer with an affection for literature, we might have s
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I first learned of this book on the 2016 Tournament of Books Longlist. When I found it at the library, the description made me laugh, in fact all the back says is,
"Some men have luck, some men have charisma. I've got both. I'm the best auction caller in the world, my name is Gustavo Sanchez Sanchez, and this is the story of my teeth."
If that makes you laugh the rest of the book probably will too. Because of how the book was written, the entire thing feels rather meta and episodic. The author wr
I’m the best auctioneer in the world, but no one knows it because I’m a discreet sort of man. My name is Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez, though people call me Highway, I believe with affection. I can imitate Janis Joplin after two rums. I can interpret Chinese fortune cookies. I can stand an egg upright on a table, the way Christopher Columbus did in the famous anecdote. I know how to count to eight in Japanese: ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi. I can float on my back. This is the story o
You could call this book experimental, or unclassifiable; you could call it a novel or a collection of vignettes. It is also a work of art in the paper form, is delightful, humorous, and distinctly literary. Though barely a novel in the usual sense, it does tell a story, evoke a place, and is definitely about teeth.

I happen to like all of the above, though I've not had much attention on teeth in my lifetime. Come to think of it however, my mother had dentures from an early age and I do recall m
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
A strange reading experience but a really cool little backstory as to how the novel came about.
Aoife Roberts
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Early in 2013 Valeria Luiselli was commissioned to write a work of fiction for the catalogue of ‘The Hunter and the Factory,’ an exhibition at the Jumex gallery, a prominent collection of contemporary art owned by the Grupo Jumex –a juice factory located in Ecatepec de Morelos, the industrial wasteland on the outskirts of Mexico city. The exhibit, and Luiselli’s commission, aimed to interrogate the links between the gallery and the factory, the artists and the workers, and the town itself as bot ...more
Joachim Stoop
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Crazy, strange, funny, clever, original, unique, fresh, delightfull.
Between gasps of laughter and having to read certain phrases and passages two times thinking:' No, did she really write this?!' A small book to reread and make people happy by giving it as a present.

"Everyone knows that horses have no compassion, I told Alan Pauls. If a horse sees you standing in front of it, crying, it just chews its hay and blinks. You start crying harder, your eyes overflowing with tears and pain, and the ho
Simon Robs
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
How could you not like this book? It has a little bit of everything touch and feel. Even the book itself, the artwork, the actual paper grade of substance. The story behind the story is just as delightful showing a collaborative spectacle of values collage period/place materiality. I'm reminded of a film admired "The Milagro Beanfield War" one of whose main character an elderly Mexican village faux sorcerer rings close to this book's protag. in thought/deed as he charms readers' imaginations lik ...more
Adam Dalva
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Conceptually wonderful novel whose unique collaborative genesis and experimental spirit are commendable. I was absolutely in love through 30 pages - the humor, the risks - and was still quite into it until the memorable tooth auction sequence, but the increasingly free-associative surrealism, the over-reliance on citation, and the repeated jokes brought on a case of diminishing returns that made it hard to keep focus through the second half. I thought the last chapter (I'm excluding the entertai ...more
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 2016-tob, 2016
this book has many fine features and I might describe it as a rollicking descent into absurdity. It didn't work for me though. It reminded me of that series about miss peregrines home for children - a story propelled by a method that is suited to a writing exercise, but better excused from efforts for full length novelization. There just wasn't enough substance to justify the fetishization of the process. And the process wasn't enough to justify the novel. So, meh. ...more
Alice Lippart
This was a strange book but definitely an interesting read. Really enjoyed the first half, but the second half went a bit over the edge for me. Liked the themes of storytelling and really enjoyed the main character, but this whole thing feels a bit like an experiment of sorts, one I'm not sure I really understand. It feels... like it's trying, but it's not quite there.

I will give this book one thing though, and it's that I've thought a lot about it since I finished it.
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
this book is totally fucking amazing. genius. fire. metal.
The Story of My Teeth is a most unusual book. It’s very clever and very witty – but… I can’t say that I really enjoyed reading it.

Valeria Luiselli is a rising star in Mexican literary circles and this novella is published by Granta. The blurbs praise her intellect and her mastery of prose. The book itself is a postmodern pastiche of styles which come together to explore the value of the things we buy and the way that celebrity attaches itself to consumer goods to inflate the price. All you need
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Several years later, while eating king prawns with his friend Sergio Pitol, in the town of Potrero in Veracruz State, Mr. Vila-Matas told Pitol about the episode with the tooth. However, in the middle of his story, a molar did in fact come loose, and fell into his plate of king prawns. Mr. Sergio Pitol, who is a man of great wisdom and mysticism, asked Vila-Matas to give him the molar, as he knew a shaman in the town who buried the teeth of the best men and women, and with them conducted a whit ...more
Weird title, weird story that I found weirdly hilarious. I kept trying to figure out what kind of humor this book was giving me. It's not American comedic humor we get from Steve Martin or Tina Fey, it's not British humour we get from P. G. Wodehouse, it's the kind of humor that these one liners make my torso twitch once with a slight 'ha'. I had to look up the author, Valeria Luiselli to figure out that this might be Mexican humor. This is a good one to listen to audio as the convincing voice o ...more
Ronald Morton
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A note: this was not as good as Faces in the Crowd, but I feel this got considerably more notice and acclaim than that earlier book. If you read and enjoyed this, go check out Faces in the Crowd; and, if you're considering this, go check out Faces in the Crowd.

That out of the way, this is an entertaining, funny read with a larger than life narrator whose tentative relationship with the truth slowly blurs the lines between story and storyteller. There's a nice shift towards the end of the book (b
Feb 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Behind on my reviews but would suggest reading the afterword and perhaps Christina McSweeney's Chronologic (immediately preceding the afterword) first. Otherwise, you may have, like me, the sense of reading a very clever and rather pleasant elaborate in-joke about modern art, literature and critical theory that is largely going over your head. ...more
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983 and grew up in South Africa. Her novels and essays have been translated into many languages and her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s. Some of her recent projects include a ballet libretto for the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010; ...more

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