Teddy Telemachus is a charming con man with a gift for sleight of hand and some shady underground associates. In need of cash, he tricks his way into a classified government study about telekinesis and its possible role in intelligence gathering. Read more...
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Teddy Telemachus is a charming con man with a gift for sleight of hand and some shady underground associates. In need of cash, he tricks his way into a classified government study about telekinesis and its possible role in intelligence gathering. There he meets Maureen McKinnon, and it's not just her piercing blue eyes that leave Teddy forever charmed, but her mind--Maureen is a genuine psychic of immense and mysterious power. After a whirlwind courtship, they marry, have three gifted children, and become the Amazing Telemachus Family, performing astounding feats across the country. Irene is a human lie detector. Frankie can move objects with his mind. And Buddy, the youngest, can see the future. Then one night tragedy leaves the family shattered. Decades later, the Telemachuses are not so amazing. Irene is a single mom whose ear for truth makes it hard to hold down a job, much less hold together a relationship. Frankie's in serious debt to his dad's old mob associates. Buddy has completely withdrawn into himself and inexplicably begun digging a hole in the backyard. To make matters worse, the CIA has come knocking, looking to see if there's any magic left in the Telemachus clan. And there is: Irene's son Matty has just had his first out-of-body experience. But he hasn't told anyone, even though his newfound talent might just be what his family needs to save themselves--if it doesn't tear them apart in the process. Harnessing the imaginative powers that have made him a master storyteller, Daryl Gregory delivers a stunning, laugh-out-loud new novel about a family of gifted dreamers and the invisible forces that bind us all.
More powers, more problems
Comic novels about dysfunctional families certainly aren’t new. Neither are novels about grifters bound together by blood and larcenous vice. It’s the personalities that make such stories feel fresh, and with Spoonbenders, Daryl Gregory has created a captivating cast for a hybrid breed of story. Told from multiple points of view and leaping between past and present, it’s a hilarious portrayal of family, schemes and a few superpowers thrown in along the way.
Once upon a time, the Telemachus clan was on the verge of greatness, wowing audiences with claims of clairvoyance and telekinesis. Though the patriarch, Teddy, was merely a very skilled con man, the family had a secret weapon: The matriarch, Maureen, was an actual psychic so powerful that even the government made use of her skills. Then Maureen died, and the family’s dreams seemed to die with her.
In the present day, the Telemachuses are fragmented and defeated. Teddy tries his old moves on new women. His daughter, Irene, looks for excitement in her dull life, while her brother Frankie sells supplements and her other brother, Buddy—who has mysterious gifts of his own—constantly invents new projects as he picks apart the family home. A ray of light enters their lives when, in a moment of pubescent heat, Irene’s son, Matty, learns he has a genuine psychic gift of his own.
Despite its fantastical premise, the real power of Gregory’s novel is in his ability to pivot between several fully realized points of view with each passing chapter. The disappointment at having to leave one fascinating Telemachus behind is exceeded only by the delight in finding the next Telemachus to be just as complex, funny and genuine. These are eccentric people with eccentric lives, but the level of emotional detail at work is astounding, and Gregory’s magic touch makes even their strangest moments relatable.
These characters’ gifts merge with a brisk pace and a subtle, often bittersweet sense of comedy to make Spoonbenders an intensely endearing read. The premise will hook you, the plot will entice you, and then the Telemachuses themselves will make you fall in love.