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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-11-05
- Reviewer: Staff
Beauman's inspired second novel introduces us to peripatetic, ever-horny Egon Loeser, a Berlin set designer of the early 1930s who leaves his city on account of someone named Hitler—not Adolph, but Adele (no relation), a young beauty impervious to Egon's charms. He follows her to Paris, then L.A., as his social set flees the encroaching horrors of National Socialism at home. Egon finds his love at CalTech, working for a physicist who might have discovered the secret of teleportation, a coincidence, because back in Berlin, Egon was working on his own, stagecraft version, based on an elaborate mechanical device from 1679. There are others who covet the physicist's secret, including a crime novelist's cuckolding wife and a cracked Pasadena millionaire who has made his fortune in car polish, and Egon becomes enmeshed in a conspiracy involving an NKVD spy, a serial killer, and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Beauman (Boxer, Beetle) has an unflagging imagination and an indefatigable gift for comedy. His overstuffed (in a good way) novel comprises memorable comic dialogue and hilarious set pieces. While Egon may not be the most admirable of protagonists, in Beauman's hands his voyage of self-discovery illuminates a pivotal moment in 20th-century history. Agent: David Forrer, Inkwell Management. (Feb.)
An imaginative tale of sex, Hitler and more
British author Ned Beauman follows up his award-winning debut, Boxer, Beetle, with a novel equally bizarre, original and satisfying.
The Teleportation Accident, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize, is the story of set designer Egon Loeser. We meet Egon in early 1930s Berlin. Hitler is beginning his climb to power and the nation grows more bellicose by the day, but Egon is apolitical to the point of obtuseness. He is concerned solely with his pursuit of the sultry Adele Hitler (no relation), a young woman whose charms have been widely sampled—Egon being the exception.
Egon’s other obsession is Adriano Lavicini, a Renaissance set designer whose attempt to create a teleportation device for the stage resulted in a tragedy that may or may not have been abetted by the devil.
In his second novel, British author Ned Beauman takes the sort of risks that writers under 30 should take, but rarely do.
Egon searches fruitlessly for Adele in Paris and then Los Angeles, where he becomes a reluctant member of the expat German community. He also bumbles his way into a murder investigation at CalTech, where a secret weapon, an actual teleportation device, is under development.
Egon’s two great loves—Adele and himself—are the driving forces of the novel. Egon is weak, banal and so solipsistic he should be royalty. In his indifference to the world beyond him, he is a monster. It won’t take much reading before you realize that, given the choice, you’d prefer to eat dinner at Hannibal Lecter’s while Humbert Humbert babysits your teenage daughter than spend an evening in Egon’s insipid company. Yet it works because the author, a special talent, pulls it off with style and without apology.
The Cambridge-educated Beauman lives in Istanbul and is the owner of a wonderfully spare website. He takes the sort of risks that writers under 30 should take, but rarely do. In his two novels—the first dealt with bugs, eugenics, a weak, repressed homosexual and an utterly revolting young boxer—he has yet to introduce one character wholly worthy of admiration, a feat that makes his works simultaneously fascinating, repelling and totally worthwhile.