‘Dentaphilia’ by Julia Slavin

‘Dentaphilia’ is one of the first short stories that I fell in love with; I read it during my undergrad degree and was blown away by its delightful weirdness. Told from the perspective of her husband, it’s about a woman who spontaneously grows teeth all over her body until every inch of her is covered in pearly whites. It’s a true exercise in the “What if?” approach to storytelling and Slavin explores the body horror of unexpected teeth (a nightmare for this dentaphobe) with an unflinching dedication to realism. It’s like examining the already wild concept of vagina dentata and taking it to an extreme. ‘Detaphilia’ is an off-beat and bittersweet story about beauty and fidelity, loyalty and change, and about the weirdness of teeth and bodies, love and blood. The line ‘Watcha looking at, Hel?’ will never stop breaking my heart.

First published in the Crescent Review, and collected in The Woman Who Cut off Her Legat the Maidstone Club, Henry Holt, 1999, and The Burned Children of America, Hamish Hamilton, 2003