Patrick Neylan's Reviews > The Teleportation Accident

The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman
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's review
Aug 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: modern, fiction, humour
Read from July 16 to 29, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Egon Loeser is a German émigré to Los Angeles in the 1930s. A theatre set designer, he’s working on device that sends actors across the stage like magic, in homage to 17th Century impresario Adriano Lavicini. Unlike most German émigrés, he’s not fleeing the Nazis. He just wants to get his end away.

The object of his lust is young, beautiful Adele Hitler (no relation, as she keeps telling people). I won’t give away the ending - which wouldn’t make a lot of sense even if I did - but the fact that Loeser’s name would normally be spelt Löser might give you a hint. Anyway, The Teleportation Accident is literary fiction – albeit light-hearted, even playful literary fiction – so the ending doesn’t matter much anyway. Good, because it’s a bit rubbish.

But on your way to that baffling, bit-rubbish, too-clever-for-its-own-good-but-couldn’t-stop-itself-anyway ending, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

Ned Beauman is a ridiculously talented novelist who is too aware of the fact. By the time he’s an old man he’s going to have a couple of Bookers, an MBE and probably a gold medal in the Olympic 100 metres. But he won’t have a Nobel Prize for Literature because he’s fun to read. Some of his imagery is the best I’ve read outside Raymond Chandler: a balloon seller on a windy Berlin day is like "a zeppelin breeder promenading an unruly litter of pups". Adele Hitler’s hair is "a flock of starlings, a drop of ink bursting in a glass of water".

As Loeser pursues Adele to Paris and then LA, he meets a cast of bizarre characters in a series of encounters that lead him to a real-life teleportation experiment, via a pornographic book and Stalin’s fifth column. The thread of the plot stretches thinly at times but just about holds itself together. If there’s a problem - and this is a four-star review so there’s not much wrong with it - it’s that Beauman knows just how good he is and is so desperate to write a novel that is worthy of his prodigious talent that the book occasionally loses itself in its own cleverness. The Booker doesn’t come to those who try too hard. Ask DBC Pierre.

Apart from the fun of the writing, there is also a subliminal moral journey. Loeser finds his moral compass only when he stops being blinded by the allure of Adele Hitler, which makes him the spiritual brother of those who followed Adolf. The Teleportation Accident is full of wit irony, and is written with such flair that its flaws only make one salivate at the thought how good his next book will be, and how good he’s going to get.

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