The Story of My Teeth, by Valeria Luiselli, is an odd book, an interesting book, a very good book. Just one look at the cover – 7 teeth of varying sizes and shapes – tells you you are in for something new. Born in Mexico City, raised in South Africa, writing the book while collaborating / focus grouping with juice factory workers in Mexico – and inventing a protagonist named Gustavo “Highway” Sanchez Sanchez – Valeria clearly puts effort into maintaining her flexibility and freedom. No rules for her!
The book design, chapter layouts, multilayered and mixed together story, pages interspersed that look like wallpaper designs, with sayings / adages from many cultures on them – Valeria does not want us settled in and cozy – She wants us on the alert, looking out for her next trick. Highway’s daring is wonderful, his story is sad, he believes he is free – but clearly is not. He is trapped in his broken birth family, his marriage family. Like Don Quixote, he works to see his story on his own terms, not accepting a standard telling.
The book is unsettling, perhaps sometimes charming. Definitely worth spending time with.