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The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman is Fizzy and Fun, Say Critics

By Periscope @periscopepost

Author Ned Beauman Novelist Ned Beauman: Fun and clever. Photocredit: Arc Quarterly

The background

Young writer Ned Beauman’s second novel, The Teleportation Accident, has been longlisted for the Booker Prize.  His first, Boxer, Beetle, was crtically acclaimed, and told the story of a Nazi memorabilia collector. This one sees Egon Loeser, a German set-designer who’s obsessed with one of his ancestors who made a device which allowed people to – you guessed it – teleport. He’s also in love with one of his former pupils, Adele Hitler (no relation). The book covers 17th-century Venice and a Los Angeles 17,000 years in the future; but mostly takes place from 1931 to 1962. Critics are praising its invention, charm and style, whilst admitting that it may be a little to cerebral and callous for some; others are noting influences as various as Thomas Pynchon and P G Wodehouse in what they are largely finding a fun and clever sophomore novel.

The book is a hoot

Ned Beauman, said Anthony Cummins in The Telegraph, should have a “decent shout” for Granta’s 2013 list of “best young novelists.” Beauman certainly doesn’t “keep us from having fun” – he introduces “a serial-killing scientist”, a “bibliophilic car-wax tycoon, a dandyish thriller writer … and a con artist who drags Egon into a scam that turns on a lychee’s likeness to a monkey testicle.” There is much “hoop-jumping”, as well as “impenetrable dialogue”, but the book is a “hoot,” managing to be both “clever and charming.”

Teleportation machine is a metaphor

Phil Baker in The Sunday Times called it “pyrotechnical” and “violently clever.” Beauman is an “impresive writer” who is “good with images even when he is not being funny” – a chandelier, for instance, hangs “galactically.” He’s “cerebral”, and indulges and number of “capricious intellectual fancies.” The teleportation machine is “a metaphor for the way that characters and motifs are recyled around the narrative.” He’s heavily influenced by Thomas Pynchon; and his cleverness has “something callous about it.” You can’t suspend your disbelief, but the book is “extraordinary.”

A gleeful genre-bender

Novelist Joe Dunthorne was pretty happy about it in The Guardian. The book “veers gleefully through hardboiled noir, SF, murder-mystery and romance, distorting each in turn.” You get the sense “that time and space are slipping.” Beauman uses anachronism to great effect – ketamine users in Weimar Berlin, for instance. He certainly has a “talent for metaphor and simile.” Some of his phrases would suit a Raymond Chandler novel, and the cast is “fun and extensive.” Dunthorne felt “so much pleasure in the unstable elements of the story” that he “couldn’t help feel at a loss as the wheels of the plot started to turn.”

Popping with vitality – just don’t get too much up your nose

James Kidd in The Independent on Sunday said it was a “funny, flashy, over-excited puppy of a novel.” Everything is parodied, and Beauman’s “restless storytelling blurs lines between art and artifice, design and chance, sex and politics.” He’s a “meticulous narrative arranger.” His influences also include P G Wodehouse and Douglas Adams. Kidd found the “frenetic tone and pace” a little “trying”, and thought Beauman a “talented but over-functioning young magician.” Even so, the book’s “popping with ideas, fizzing with vitality, and great fun to quaff. Just be careful not to get too much up your nose.”


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