The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike
Philip K. Dick
Tor, Feb 2009, $25.95
In Carquinez, Marin County, Jewish realtor Leo Runcible knows he is out of place amidst the WASPS he sells local real estate to. Still he enjoys making money and he actually cares about the community. His neighbor Walter Dombrosio works in San Francisco as a product designer who loves pranks and dreams of a hoax to rival the infamous Cardiff Giant.
Leo and Walter had a spat when the latter brought a colored person to dinner, which the former insists cost him a potential megabucks deal; Leo blames Walter while he knows he was upset with his potential partner’s denigration of Negroes. When Leo notices Walter driving erratic; he calls the cops. Walter loses his driving license which means his wife Sherry takes him to and from work. He gets into a fight with his boss who hired Sherry and loses his job. With time on his hands he creates a fake hominid skull “found” in his back yard where some recent artifacts had been uncovered. However, the joke spins out of control as archeologists descend on Western Marin County only to find something dangerous lurks in the water table.
This is a reprint of an intriguing character study that brings to life the mores of Northern California in the 1950s. The story line is totally character driven with little action beyond incidents that enable the audience to fully understand what motivates Leo and Walt. Readers who enjoy a slice of those Happy Days will appreciate Philip K. Dick’s insightful realistic look at a somewhat isolated community with its local societal rules.