ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike by Philip K. Dick: (A Book Review)

Updated on December 14, 2016
wingedcentaur profile image

The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.

Source

Preface

Today we're "reviewing" another literary novel by science fiction writer, Philip K. Dick. Those of you familiar with my "reviews" know that I call this novel literary---and one might add 'realist'---because the story's action does not point to a specific imperative; that is to say, there is not any clearly definable, specific mission that anybody must undertake. The other reason I call this novel "literary" is because, unlike Mr. Dick's genre science fiction novels, no "laws of physics" are "broken" in The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike. That is to say, nothing happens in the book that could not also happen, here, in real life.

Those of you familiar with my book "reviews" will also know, that as I use the word, review, I do not necessarily set myself up as someone competent to "critique" the work; that is not what I do. First of all, I always pay deference to the professionally published, professional writers they are due, especially from someone like me---an amateur, Internet writer. Also, with novels I do not engage in such things as critiquing plot construction and character development.

We are not here to second guess the subjective, artistic choices of the author. What I try to do with these reviews is to tell you what kind of book you're in for should you decide to read it.

With books, if I am writing about them here, on Hub Pages, you may assume that I generally like the book, if that matters to you. I also review movies; with movie reviews, mind you, I often give myself more discretionary latitude for criticism.

Let's get started!

The edition of The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike I have is hardcover, published by Tor Books, posthumously by Mr. Dick's estate in 1984. The novels runs three-hundred-four pages in length (relatively long for a PKD novel). Nevertheless, that relative brevity, by today's standards, in addition to the high quality of the prose, makes this a book that one can easily finish in one setting, if one is so inclined.

Before going into this, you should know that although this book is a "literary" novel. it is not a sentimental one. What I mean by that is that, in general, Philip K. Dick's fiction (including his literary stuff) was not, in my estimation, written to appeal to the heart, but the head.

What does that mean?

Well, I guess one thing I mean by it is that PKD's novels are books of psychological insight as opposed to emotional catharsis, you might say. What is more important in his fiction is how characters, in their interactions, think about themselves and their fellows, as opposed to how they necessarily feel about themselves and their fellows.

Still, what does that mean?

Again, well... I could explain it but you would find it tiresome. Suffice it to say, that as I use the terms "think" and "feel," in this context, one should not think of them as polar opposite, alien worlds in a "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" way.

"Thinking" is not wholly devoid of empathy and compassion; and "feeling" is not wholly devoid of logic and a sense of orderly justice. I guess what all of this amounts to, from the perspective of the reader, are fast-moving books with fast-moving plots.

Anyhoo...

The basic story is about a realtor called Leo Runcinble, who finds a strange skull on his property. At first, the apparent discovery causes some excitement in the neighborhood. Folks are starting to hold out hope that the skull is connected to the early evolutionary origins of the modern human species. But no, that is not to be.

The skull is quickly discovered to be a hoax. However, the skull does point to a birth defect, which is known to afflict certain persons in the outskirts of the community, the far edge, the "boondocks," if you will. The birth defect is a vastly oversized jaw.

The thing is, the condition---called 'chupper' jaw by the locals---may or may not be connected to the water supply, which is polluted.

This question is never resold, one way or another, in the story. This being the case, it is never clear is some action needs to be taken with regard to the water supply, in order to stave off chupper jaw. For those of you familiar with my book reviews, you know that, for me, it is precisely this ambiguity---as opposed to specificity of purpose---which makes a novel or story "literary," as opposed to "genre."

On the one hand, it may be that the water supply has something to do with chupper jaw; but then again, that may only be urban legend, the way the tale is structured.

Even though it is not clear that action needs to be taken, with regard to the water company and chupper jaw, nevertheless, Leo Runcible takes it upon himself (and, he initially hoped, as part of a consortium of concerned prominent businessmen) to buy the water company and change out all the pipes bringing in water .

I'll stop there because I don't want to give the whole plot away. Let me just say that if you like Philip K. Dick's "genre" science fiction, you should like his "literary" works, including this one.

Enjoy it!

Thank you for reading.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)