Dustin Long’s ‘Bad Teeth’ merges humor, dark satire and academia

Bad Teeth
“Bad Teeth” is Dustin Long’s second book. He is also the author of “Icelander.”
Credit: Alex Lisowski

Anyone can appreciate the alliteration of the four cities in “Bad Teeth,” – Brooklyn, Bloomington, Berkeley and Bakersfield – but only true literary minds will notice that they are in reverse alphabetical order. Dustin Long’s latest release is full of these winks at prose, which fans of his first novel, “Icelander” will recognize.

The book features four different interlocking narratives with characters living in the four cities named above, each on his or her own personal journey.  A translator named Judas ties the characters together as he travels from city to city searching for a reclusive writer, referred to as the Tibetan David Foster Wallace. In Brooklyn, he develops a crush on the lovely Selah. In Bloomington, he stays with his friend Adam, a hedonistic, frustrated writer. The Berkley section centers around Selah and her shady new boyfriend, and she eventually heads to meet Judas in Bakersfield.

“Not only are the cities in reverse alphabetical order, but they are in reverse chronological order for where I’ve lived,” Long says. “Before writing ‘Bad Teeth,’ I was working on a book that took place in 17th century China, something I knew nothing about. Even with ‘Icelander,’ I’ve never lived anywhere with snow, really. So I knew I wanted to write a book that took place in modern day and only in places I have lived and knew about first hand.”

Another difference between Long’s past works and this one is it’s a bit less cerebral and more attention is paid to character development. “Focusing on the emotional lives of modern characters in a very realistic way was a challenge for me. Part of the reason why I chose to try that was to stretch myself,” Long says.

Long actually had a gem of an idea of what “Bad Teeth” would become when he was an undergraduate. He wrote what he calls a “terrible novel,” that was divided into geographical sections and had a similar quest narrative that “Bad Teeth” would come to have. “Having gone through a similar process helped me have the narrative in mind before I even thought of the plot,” he says. It sounds as if Long himself has gone on his own academic journey through the four cities, and evolving both professionally and personally. There’s nothing “bad” about that at all.

Reading date:
April 4, 7 p.m.
Bookcourt
163 Court St., Brooklyn, 718-875-3677
www.bookcourt.com

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Brooklyn packed for annual West Indian Day Parade

Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway was packed Monday with an estimated one million people showing up to celebrate West Indian culture on Labor Day. Parade-goers waved flags…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Gossip

Brad and Angelina honeymoon in Gozo

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have taken their brood to Gozo for a working honeymoon.

Entertainment

Where to place the blame in a nude…

When a celebrity's private photos are leaked online, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that they only have themselves to blame, since they took…

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

MLB

Cole Hamels, three other Phillies throw no-hitter

The Phillies had something to cheer about in September despite being mired in last place and struggling to figure out what their future looks like.…

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…

Career

The number of telecommuters is expected to nearly…

Until a few years ago, telecommuting was not considered a realistic option at most companies. But with technological advances like high-speed Internet and smartphones, more…

Wellbeing

Your new food ally to ward off type…

For people who may be headed for type 2 diabetes, regularly eating pistachios might help turn the tide, according to a small nutrition trial from…