Taylor’s Tales of Teeth and Two Faces

Samuel W. Taylor (1907-1997), one of Utah’s most famous residents, was a prominent author, playwright, screenwriter, and historian who shrewdly capitalized on screen and radio rights. He wrote prolifically in the 1940s and 50s and achieved success in a range of mediums: novels, short stories, essays, nonfiction books, stage plays, and screenplays. His Mormon father was a subject of particular interest, and his biographical book Family Kingdom caused quite a stir when it was published. But it’s his short story “A Situation of Gravity,” from which the film “The Absent-Minded Professor” and its remake “Flubber” are based, that made Taylor famous.

Last week, Stark House Press reissued a couple of Taylor’s other works—the novels The Man With My Face and The Grinning Gismo. The first, originally published in 1948, is an outlandish crime tale about a man whose identity is stolen. It’s fast, thrilling, and slickly told, and Taylor examines the crime with such thoughtful care that by the end, you’re convinced that a crime like this could really take place.

The subsequent mystery, The Grinning Gismo, from 1951, is a gritty pulp yarn that employs a number of clever techniques to keep the reader deeply invested in the story. It’s very suspenseful, full of neat twists, and with an impressive denouement.

These stories are well worth seeking out, and this newly released twofer includes my essay “The Doppelgänger Fiend and the Teeth Worth Dying For.” You can purchase the volume on Amazon or Barnes and Noble using the links provided.