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“I once loved a woman who grew teeth all over her body. The first one came in as a hard spot in her navel. It grew quickly into a tooth, a real tooth with a jagged edge and a crown, enameled like a pearl. I thought it was sexy, a little jewel in her belly button. Helen would bunch up her shirt, undulate like a harem dancer and I’d be ready to go….But in the morning when she scratched my thigh with a molar that had sprouted in the crease behind her knee, I called Dr. Manfred.”
So begins “Dentaphilia,” the first published short story by D.C. resident Julia Slavin, a former producer for ABC News in New York who has exited the fast-paced TV life and taken to raising a family and writing fiction—extremely odd fiction. Slavin’s unsettling tale, equal parts romance, comedy, and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, appears in the new edition of the Crescent Review, a 13-year-old lit journal based in Chevy Chase, Md. Slavin’s contribution is by far the most, er, biting of the new Crescent’s 17 offerings.
Where exactly did the author (who also writes a “pretty wacky” Internet soap opera called Barnaby Woods) get such a wild idea? “I had some kind of strange illness that made me real edgy,” Slavin explains in her terse Manhattanspeak. “A friend called up and asked me how I was feeling. I said I felt like I had teeth growing all over my body, and instantly thought, ‘Hey, that’s an idea for a story.’”
As poor Helen sprouts incisors, bicuspids, and the inevitable wisdom teeth on every body part imaginable, her husband becomes jealous of the illness; to explain “Dentaphilia” further would ruin the twists Slavin serves up. However, I will say this: If you think the mouth is a tough place to have impacted choppers…
The Crescent Review has already decided to publish Slavin’s follow-up story in its next edition. “Swallowed Whole” will detail the travails of a woman who ingests an entire 17-year-old boy. Where the idea for that story originated from, however, will be saved for a braver day.—Sean Daly
Slavin will read “Dentaphilia” at Chapters, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., and also at Atticus Books, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.