The Story of my Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

All along, this felt like whatI might call comic Mexica metafiction — the first-person account of Gustavo Sanchez Sanchez, better now as Highway, an obsessive collector of things who becomes an auctioneer, situated among history, art, and philosophy, and decidedly revisionist, at least as to the autobiography. As it winds down, it takes on new layers, including the account of the man whom Highway engaged to actually do the writing of the preceding autobiography, illuminating where the story strayed from reality.

It goes on to include a chronology of historical events (of Mexico, art, literature, philosophy, and others) that are mentioned anywhere the preceding narratives, which, it turns out (the author explains in an afterward) was written by the translator, and accepted by the author as part of the English version of the book. It also turns out the book has a fascinating story of origin — produced as a serial to be read out loud to factory workers in the tradition of the tobacco readers in Cuba (familiar to some of us thanks to Rachel Kushner), and shaped by their feedback as the story developed. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything like it.

Bonus points for how hard it made me laugh when one of the characters kept calling Highway “Turnpike.”

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