If you are a regular reader of The Well-Read Wife, then you probably know about my Man Booker Prize reading project. Basically, I’m trying to read most or all of the books on the Man Booker Prize longlist before the shortlist is announced on September 11th. There is not much time left and so far I have read four of the twelve books on the longlist: Skios by Michael Frayn, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil, and The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman. I’m currently reading Communion Town by Sam Thompson.
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman has a beautiful cover (see photo above left) and the contents are compelling. The protagonist of the novel is Egon Loeser, a theatrical set designer in 1930′s Berlin. He has recently broken up with his girlfriend Marlene. He is obsessed with Adriano Lavicini, a set designer from the 1600′s, known for his infamous Teleportation Device. The device Lavicini created was a set piece that detroyed the theater and killed several audience members when it was put to use. Loeser is in the midst of testing his own teleportation device for a play about Lavicini when the book begins. The device does not work as planned, and Loeser is upset that the set piece did not work the way he would have liked. Loeser eventually attends a party where a student he used to tutor is in attendance. Her name is Adele Hitler (no relation to Adolf), and she is beautiful. He quickly becomes obsessed with sleeping with her, and the novel takes off as Loeser pursues her all over the globe.
The above is just a brief summary of the book. It is so hard to explain the trippy goodness contained in this novel that I really don’t know where to begin. For example, part of the novel takes place in Paris where while searching for Adele, Loeser accidentally finds himself involved in a plot to perform fake, youth-enhancing surgery on an American woman and her niece. What is the surgery? The ladies want monkey glands sewn to their – You know what? I’m not going to get into exactly where they wanted the monkey glands. You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Occasionally, the POV shifts from Loeser to minor characters in the book. Instead of being a distraction the other POVs serve a function as fascinating pieces of back story for Beauman’s novel. With each grifter, mad scientist, or demented colonel that Beauman brought to life, I was even more enchanted by the world he built. As Loeser finds himself in more and more unlikely situations, the threads of the novel begin to come together to create a truly unique plot.
While Loeser is on his quest to find Adele Hitler, he vehemently stays away from the papers and reading anything political. He has no idea what is going on in Germany and seemingly does not care to know. His willful ignorance of the tragedies being perpetuated in his homeland is surely symbolic of the state of politics in the world today. So many people don’t care about anything unless it directly affects them. When Loeser finally comes into contact with Adele in California, he becomes indirectly involved in a whole swarm of activities including murder, possible adultery, espionage, teleportation, and many other things. The loose elements floating around in the novel quickly come together in a whirlwind of activity. It is an insane mixture of literary, historical fiction, sci-fi, and comedy.With The Teleportation Accident, Ned Beauman has created one of those rare novels that thrives on quirk and whimsy rather than deteriorating in it. I highly recommend reading this one as soon as it’s available in the states. (I ordered my copy from Amazon UK.)
(I really hope this review makes sense. But Hurricane Isaac is coming, so I didn’t have time to proof read. Later y’all.)