This was a very interesting and much different book from what I expected going in. For the most part, that was both a good surprise and a good result. Because of the ways I’ve seen Valeria Luiselli has been promoted I was thinking this was more going to be more like a memoirish story. But! It turns out that this was a more post-modernish novel in chunks with a disruption of narrative expectations and a literary reflective point of view.
Here’s what I mean by this. This is a book a lot like Roberto Bolano in some ways, and in addition this book shows how much similarity there is with Luiselli’s work and her husband, Enrigue Alvaro, whose book Sudden Death feels a lot like this one in tone and form.
So what is this book? It’s a kind of literary history and literary memoir of a man who finds himself in the position to sell his teeth in his capacity as an auction barker.
But then what happens is that the narrative breaks down and makes references over and over and over and folding in upon itself repeatedly. So the effect is constant name-dropping in terms of literary allusions.
So the book is kind of a romp, and the tone is a bit off the wall. It’s an enjoyable book, but also one that I didn’t feel super connected with in terms of the story itself. I feel like I would have enjoyed this more if it was 10% more straight forward.