The Story of My Teeth (Mexico)

Book #1

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina McSweeney

Mexico was the first country I visited and it was on a high school graduation trip with a big group from my school. I’m 100% sure I did not get the full experience of Mexico (but I have really fun memories). I’m surprised I haven’t been back in the last 20-plus years. It’s being added back to the list of places to visit. 

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I chose to read The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, because of this description of her writing in the novel’s NY Times review: “Luiselli is an exciting writer to watch, not only for this book, but also for the fresh approach she brings to fiction, one that invites participation and reaction, even skepticism — a living, breathing map.”

This is a story of Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez and his life with (and sometimes without) his teeth. Told in a series of seven books or chapters, Luiselli slowly unfolds the true story of Gustavo and his alternating drive for fame, fortune, and opportunity. But in a way that is entertaining, sometimes strange, and always wanting you to read more. 

I didn’t  know the full story of how this book was written until the afterword, which became one of the more fascinating parts of the book. Luiselli was commissioned to write a book for an exhibition at the Galería Jumez outside of Mexico City. Which like the gallery portrayed in The Story of My Teeth, is funded by a juice factory. Luiselli decided to write a story for the factory workers rather than about them. Her process involved writing a chapter, which would be printed and given to the factory workers where they would read and discuss it in a group. The sessions were recorded so Luiselli could hear their ideas, feedback, and stories that would inform the next chapter - and so on. A collaboration of the best kind. There are many voices inside The Story of My Teeth and it’s all that more interesting because of them.

This was a really fun way to start my project of reading a book written by a woman from every country in the world. I’m on to the U.K. next!