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The Teleportation Accident
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2014 Book Discussions > The Teleportation Accident - Part 1 (February 2014)

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Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
This thread is for discussion of Part One.


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Who is reading this with us? Where are you in reading it, and what were your first impressions?

I had a bit of trouble getting through the first two chapters of Part One. I thought the story really picked up when the main character left Germany for Paris. Later in the book, I realized that part one introduced a lot of characters who will turn up again in Los Angeles in Parts Three and Four, and I sort of regret not having taken notes.

Speaking of the main character, Loeser, does anyone speak German? Is this name pronounced as much like "loser" as it looks?


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments A word for the day, dear fellow readers, is schlimazel. Example: Egon Loeser is clearly a schlimazel.

Mind you, he seems to deserve all his misfortune. Really, almost all of the characters in this part of the book seem to be awful people when you come down to it. But amusingly awful.


message 4: by Ellie (last edited Feb 02, 2014 02:53PM) (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) | 143 comments I've just begun (20 pages) so I don't have much to say other than it seems Egon's last name should be pronounced "loser".


Terry Pearce I've finished Part One ans was enchanted by it. So much excellent use of language. I loved:

'he couldn't credit the English idiom's characterisation of fate as something like a hack playwright who never missed a chance to work in an ironic pratfall, any more than he could credit the German Idiom's characterisation of the devil as something like a preening actor who checked every gossip column in every newspaper every morning for a mention of himself'

'The fact that you are so neurotic about your past lovers males it both fortunate and predictable that you have had so few of them. It's one of those elegant self-regulating systems that one so often finds in nature'

'He had an educated, ironic, very English manner, at once sharply penetrating and affably detached, like someone who would always win the bets he made with strangers at weddings on how long the marriage would last but would never bother to collect the money.'

I also love the self-aware passage on pages 23/24 (paperback) where he considers the era he is part of and thinks about how it might look in 2012, culminating in the exchange where he predicts that Hitler will never make a bit of difference to his life, to be told 'that's the sort of remark that people quote in their memoirs later on as a delicious example of historical irony.'

I wonder at this stage about the significance of the Teleportation Accident itself (both the old and new versions but particularly the new). It seems rather minor to have been made titular.


Terry Pearce I enjoyed the thoughts on p55 (paperback edition) on equating looks with innate value and intelligence. It's a keen observation that while we would all abhor the Nazis doing this, we are often guilty to a lesser extent ourselves.

I also enjoyed his description of the hangover, that began the second chapter.


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
The teleportation accident, or variations on it, come up throughout the book. By the end, it is clearly a very appropriate title. The comments in the beginning about fate, and accidents, are also set up for what's coming. Odd coincidences play a significant role in the book.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments I really did not like Part I. I found it ludicrous. Now understand that I generally am not a fan of either farce or slapstick, which when joined by the adolescent fixation on sex, rudeness, and self-centerness of the obnoxious Loeser had me doing a lot of grimacing. But, with that said, I kept on reading and by the beginning of Part III began to actually want to know what would happen next!

Now, on reflection, I can appreciate the language use that Terry points out, but I still cannot appreciate the drama that accompanied it.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments Peter wrote: "A word for the day, dear fellow readers, is schlimazel. Example: Egon Loeser is clearly a schlimazel.

Mind you, he seems to deserve all his misfortune. Really, almost all of the characters in th..."


Loeser is more than prone to bad luck. He invites it with open arms.


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
He does invite it with open arms. He practically sends bad luck engraved invitations.


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Deborah | 983 comments I can't figure out why it reminds me of A Curable Romantic by Skibell. It might be all in my mind.


message 12: by Lily (last edited Feb 04, 2014 09:26PM) (new) - added it

Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments Deborah wrote: "I can't figure out why it reminds me of A Curable Romantic by Skibell. It might be all in my mind."

"I fell in love with Emma Eckstein the moment I saw her from the fourth gallery of the Carl Theater, and this was also the night I met Sigmund Freud...."

Well, without reading the book, but substituting "Adele Hitler" for "Emma Eckstein" and "Brecht" for "Freud," I think I get your point, Deborah.


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Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments For those of you unfamiliar with and curious about George Grosz (p12), here are a few links I found of interest:

Commentary on his role in social commentary:
http://nyss.webfactional.com/exhibiti...

Considerably more here in an entry from MoMA:
http://www.moma.org/collection/artist...

Some of his works in oil:
http://www.abcgallery.com/G/grosz/gro...


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments Lily, Thanks for the links - interesting art.


message 15: by Deborah (last edited Feb 06, 2014 04:43AM) (new) - added it

Deborah | 983 comments The extent to which Loeser is both non-political and politically comatose is rather fascinating. I wonder how Beauman came to the idea. I'm finding it interesting how this book is so completely of an era.


Daniel Deborah wrote: "The extent to which Loeser is both non-political and politically comatose is rather fascinating. I wonder how Beauman came to the idea. I'm finding it interesting how this book is so completely of ..."

Now that you mention it, that may have been my favourite aspect of the book. Who could possibly think up a protagonist in 1930s Berlin who had no clue who Adolf Hitler was, and then have him "escaping" Germany in a quest to find some warped version of Hitler's Doppelgänger?


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
I've just had a thought. What would happen if Loeser met up with Mae from The Circle? They might really hit it off. Think what vacuous conversations they could have together.


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Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments I keep finding myself asking, who is Ned Beauman?

(Wiki was little help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ned_Beauman)


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments I've always thought the majority of the population at any time was more concerned with getting through their day than with politics. But I do think having a non-political protagonist in a highly politically charged situation was a clever way to show the repercussions of the politics of the time without having to make them center stage.


message 20: by Peter (last edited Feb 06, 2014 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments Loeser and Mae? I don't think that sort of mixed marriage would work: he's flesh and blood, and she's cardboard...


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Here is a link to an interview that gives more of a feel for the author as a person:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012...


Daniel Casceil wrote: "I've just had a thought. What would happen if Loeser met up with Mae from The Circle? They might really hit it off. Think what vacuous conversations they could have together."

Awesome...

And Peter, great point about this being a clever way to illustrate the repercussions of political obliviousness.


message 23: by Lily (last edited Feb 07, 2014 06:47AM) (new) - added it

Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments Casceil wrote: "Here is a link to an interview that gives more of a feel for the author as a person:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012..."


Thx, Casceil. I am feeling the generation gap, I think. As an Amazon reviewer wrote: "This novel is unique, one requiring a good deal of patience, and even fortitude, at least for some of us who are significantly older than the twenty-seven-year-old author." But I do feel as if experiencing a window into how that generation thinks and gathers knowledge in today's world.

http://www.guernicamag.com/interviews...

I had missed this one from Linda on the general discussion page -- it helps, too.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments Casceil wrote: "Here is a link to an interview that gives more of a feel for the author as a person:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012..."


Thanks Casceil for this article. He is so young! For your favorite book "growing up" to be Snow Crash is hard for me to get a handle on. I remember reading and loving Snow Crash - my favorite Stephenson novel to date - but I was well grown up at that time!


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments Casceil and I have an advantage here, as our youngest kid's favorite book is, and has been more many years, Snow Crash. And it's not surprising that Beauman doesn't have that high an opinion of LA if he's basing it on City of Quartz (which is a great book, BTW). I didn't read CoQ myself until after I had lived in the Greater LA area for seven years, then moved to Arizona. That probably muted its impact for me -- I just got left with a firm impression that the average homeowners' association is a petite-bourgeois crypto-fascist cesspit.


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Carl | 287 comments This description of the functionality of drugs (bolding is mine) struck me as ultra-modern, and I am still puzzling if they were needed in such a manner in the 30s.

‘We were wondering if you had any more of that coke,’ said Achleitner. ‘Quite a cache of it, yes,’ said Rackenham. His German was good. ‘Can we buy some?’ said Loeser. ‘We’re going to a party later and it’s the only way we know how to endure the company of our friends.


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
I would have thought alcohol would be more commonly used for that purpose in the 30's.


Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments Well, Berlin in this period did have a reputation for drug use, but that struck me as a rather modern attitude, too. But Loeser is probably a morose drunk, so drinking wouldn't make it any easy to endure the company of his 'friends'.


Casceil | 1692 comments Mod
Thanks for the link. I had no idea that 1930's Berlin had that aspect.


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2305 comments Peter wrote: "Well, Berlin in this period did have a reputation for drug use, but that struck me as a rather modern attitude, too. But Loeser is probably a morose drunk, so drinking wouldn't make it any easy to..."

Fascinating look at life in the Weimer Republic. I knew jazz was big in Berlin at that time, but did not appreciate the cultural scene as a whole.


message 31: by Carl (new) - rated it 3 stars

Carl | 287 comments The writing here is outwardly funny and clever, where often you don't have the fun of debating meaning, but some of the passages are fun by themselves. Here are a few more favorites:

Politics is pigshit.

~~~
‘Don’t be so literal. Photography, as a ceremonial gesture, is a convenient way to make people feel like they’re having a good time, but the technical details are a bore. I picked this machine up for a song because it wouldn’t work even if there were film in it.

~~~
If you want to understand what American culture really is you should go and look at the new escalators in the Kaufhaus des Westens on Tauentzienstrasse. They’re American-made. Never in your life will you have seen so many apparently healthy adults queueing up for the privilege of standing still.




message 32: by Lily (last edited Feb 07, 2014 07:58PM) (new) - added it

Lily (joy1) | 2465 comments Carl wrote: "If you want to understand what American culture really is you should go and look at the new escalators in the Kaufhaus des Westens on Tauentzienstrasse. They’re American-made. Never in your life will you have seen so many apparently healthy adults queueing up for the privilege of standing still. .."

Fun comment. But left me wondering about the time frame for the adoption of escalators.

If anyone else doesn't know and is curious:
http://www.escalate.co.uk/History_of_...


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