Short book Responses

Please answer the following two questions in a series of short, thoughtful paragraphs. Responses to both questions combined should be approximately 1.5-2 pages in length, and should be typed and properly formatted.

1. In Part IV, Gustavo observes that “What auctioneers auction, in the end, are just names of people, and maybe words. All I do is give them new content” (106). For this response, I would like you to consider how Gustavo’s profession of auctioneer functions as an allegory for fictional narrative. In what respect could we say that fictional narratives are merely “giving new content” to names and words that are already familiar to readers? What is this “new content” that fictional narratives provide? And why would Luiselli associate narrative fiction with a profession whose sole job is to sell things (i.e., auctioneers)?

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2. As we will discuss in class next week, Luiselli is using the image of “teeth” as an overdetermined metaphor for art—and, in particular, for the way in which the artist’s name relates to the value of his or her work. For this response, I would like you to think about the auction series “Allegories of Ecatepec,” which takes up the majority of Part V. Gustavo presents this series as one that “would recycle our new collected objects by telling stories that used the names of my friends and acquaintances from the neighborhood” (123). The joke here is that these objects are trash that Gustavo is trying to pawn off as works of art. But what if we took Gustavo seriously? What would it take to consider these objects “works of art”? What would be gained by doing so—not just for Gustavo, but also for the residents of the neighborhood? What is Luiselli implying here about the nature of art and artistic value?

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