STARRED REVIEW
September 15, 2015

A sharp, comic voice from Mexico

By Valeria Luiselli
Few novels manage to be both coy and brusquely honest, uproarious and profoundly affecting. Even fewer are about teeth—and yet Mexican author Valeria Luiselli’s second work of fiction, The Story of My Teeth, is all of the above. But even more so, this eccentric work is about stories themselves.
Share this Article:

Few novels manage to be both coy and brusquely honest, uproarious and profoundly affecting. Even fewer are about teeth—and yet Mexican author Valeria Luiselli’s second work of fiction, The Story of My Teeth, is all of the above. But even more so, this eccentric work is about stories themselves. Recalling the literary traditions of Renata Adler, Roberto Bolaño and Julio Cortázar, Luiselli abandons the traditional form of a novel in favor of something startlingly original to do this rambunctious and bittersweet story justice.

Divided into seven sections, The Story of My Teeth lays everything out at the start—chapter one, after all, is titled: “The Story (Beginning, Middle, and End).” Indeed, the life of this novel’s protagonist, Gustavo Sanchez Sanchez (aka Highway), is chronicled from beginning to end in this very first section. Born with terrible malocclusion, Highway rambles around the Americas until he becomes a world-class auctioneer, constantly in search for both salvation and the most glorious set of dentures—which he finally finds in an extremely unusual turn of events. As Highway would say: End of Story.

But Highway’s tale doesn’t end here. In a series of stories set in miniature, the following sections chronicle the various histories of famous teeth, from Plato’s to Virginia Woolf’s, as well as other episodes and characters that blur the line between fact and fiction. These sections form a sort of analog—including images, timelines and other devices—yet always reflect back to Highway as the narrative pinwheels around him, presenting revisionist histories and ulterior insights into the significance of storytelling itself.

Finishing The Story of My Teeth will leave you wanting more of Luiselli’s sense of humor and grace, her perfect ear for entertainment and epiphany. But more importantly, this novel will change the way you look at writing and stories—and will reveal that in the end, what is imagined is as important as anything else.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

The Story of My Teeth

The Story of My Teeth

By Valeria Luiselli
Coffee House Press
ISBN 9781566894098

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!