Saturday 8 September 2012

My Man Booker Challenge: The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman


This was the first on the Man Booker long-list that I picked to read. Perhaps one of the longest in the selection, I confess it has taken me longer than expected to get through book one of twelve… here’s hoping the next book is a little shorter…

However, long as it is, The Teleportation Accident is engaging, intriguing and also very funny. The novel tells the story of Ergon Loeser, a self obsessed theatre set designer who is the laughing stock of his peer group of writers, artists and actors in 1930’s Berlin. Loeser’s journey around the world to try and fulfil his sexual appetite for one woman brings together an odd assortment of characters with the most peculiar of scenarios that will have you in fits of giggles. (I received a few strange glances on the train when Loeser started attaching a ‘monkey ball’ to an upper class tourist’s neck).

The Teleportation Accident hinges around a theatrical explosion in the late seventeenth century.  An explosion that seeps through the story, intertwining a rich world of bizarre characters, who could almost have novels of their own, and cities that are desperately    trying to adapt to the trials and strains of World War Two.

Interestingly, Beauman creates a protagonist in Loeser who actively avoids news and politics, announcing; ‘I will bet you anything you like that this other Hitler, whoever he is, will never make one bit of difference to my life.’ Through Loeser we are able to witness the scandalous parties of the 1930’s, the social jostling of the 40’s and the distractions provided by cities like Paris and L.A.

The Teleportation Accident is an exciting and clever novel with an (at risk of using this word too many times) ‘explosive’ ending. I'm not sure it will make the same big splash as the current best-sellers but, for those who have a bit of time, intellect and imagination, it is a really rewarding read: a strong contender for this year’s Man Booker title.

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