Since I cannot be at the London Book Club this week (which I am quite sad about) I thought I would put together a few thoughts about the book of choice: Ned Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident I came it with a conflicting anticipatory feelings: “Oooh, I’ve been meaning to read that ever since Nick Harkaway started blethering abot how ace it is…” meeting “Buuuut, I read Boxer Beetle earlier this year, and I wasn’t that wowed,” and going hmmmmm.
I mean, Boxer, Beetle was clearly very good - in the way that was clearly trying to be very good. Ned Beauman can do words - and story, and character, but neither of those in Boxer… particularly appealed to me. I found it brutal, and bleak and cruel, and in a way that added up to ‘quite unpleasant’ in my mind rather than ‘bleakly brilliant and insightful’, and for all it had it’s moment, they were showy-off moments.
So it was good whenThe Teleportation Accident turned out to be quite a nice treat. I mean, Ned Beauman can still do words very sharply, but the showing off in his second book is moderated - or perhaps the rest of his talent is catching up with him. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for books that dismisses ketamine with include lines like:
“If I want to feel as if I’m being sucked down a fathomless gloomy tunnel for hours and hours then I have a complete set of Schopenhauer at home.”
And personally I liked the fact that the book was, without being sentimental about anything, warmer and more humane. I liked that it wrote about 1930s Germany from a different kind of perspective - it was refreshing (and not a little worrying, after all, when everyone acts like Egon all the time, that’s how you end up in 1930s Germny…). And Egon is not lovely - but he’s not disgustingly unlovely like Sinner in Boxer. He is, quoth me:
“More of a twerp than a tosser.”
His fascination with Adele is completely believable, and I like the dance of people in and out of his life.
It’s not perfect - you really have to commit to staying with it. If you don’t actively want to read it, there’s a strong possibility that you will get bored or annoyed, or think it’s too big for its boots: a 350 page book really should grab you before you’re 250 pages in, because that’s demanding a lot of commitment in a world full of other books that do. But, once it gets going, it really does get going. As my friend, K said:
It ratchets through to a grand finale, a strong ending, and three nice epitaphs. That said, the fourth one I could have lived without. I do not get what’s going on with the Troodonians, and I would have liked the uncertainty of the book without that last ending. I wanted to keep on making it up.