When I saw Bad Teeth by Dustin Long I thought, this is the book for me. It ticks all of my boxes: academic satire- check, Tibet writer who may be a plagiarist – interest peaked, add in a touch of a love story – oh yeah. And did I mention that it has footnotes? I love me a footnote!
And yet. For all Bad Teeth seemed to have going for it, I did not really enjoy it all that much. I felt like I had to force myself to read it. The characters seem to be the root of the problem for me. They were all rather self-involved. Not self-involved enough to make me laugh, just enough to turn me off. Or maybe I’m just too self involved to see past this. It was very much the type of novel about white guys in Brooklyn sitting and having thoughts, to paraphrase the geniuses behind Book Riot.
As much as I hate to gender novels (labelling something as women’s lit actually makes me cringe), I kind of think Bad Teeth is a guy’s novel. There are other male writers like Michael Chabon and Nick Hornby who are often considered guys’ writers, but unlike Long, I like their stuff. In particular, there was something about Long’s view towards women that i did not like.
Who would like this book? In spite of my hesitations surrounding Bad Teeth, I do think it is going to be a rather talked about book this spring. The publishers draw comparisons to Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace. The first I don’t particularly enjoy, the second I haven’t read, but that does give Long a fair bit of pedigree. Long also appears to have an association with McSweeney’s, which is generally quite a high recommendation.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.