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The Teleportation Accident: A Novel Hardcover – February 26, 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Egon Loeser, an avant-garde set designer in Weimar-era Berlin, is obsessed with a girl named Adele Hitler (no relation), who, like most other girls, won’t sleep with him, forcing Egon to spend his evenings with the alluring women portrayed in a pornographic novel called Midnight at the Nursing Academy. Then there is his current project, designing the sets for an Expressionist production of a play about Renaissance set designer Lavicini, whose so-called teleportation device (think “Beam me up, Scotty”) exploded in a crowded Italian theater. Loeser hopes to re-create the teleportation device for a spectacular finale that will gain him the respect he craves from his fellow dissolute artists. Naturally, it all goes bad. Fraulein Hitler hooks up with Egon’s worst enemy, and the teleportation device explodes, well, prematurely, forcing Egon to escape to Paris and from there to California. Tragically, he loses his favorite book en route. Egon can run, but he can’t hide. Adele turns up in California, too, working for a wacky scientist who appears to be experimenting with something very like a teleportation device. There is so much going on in this truly bizarre novel—everything from slapstick to noir to steampunk—that discombobulated readers may feel as though they’ve fallen down a narrative wormhole. But what a wormhole! Beauman, a kind of comic version of Nick Harkaway in Angelmaker (2012), gives us an apolitical German in 1930s Berlin who is indifferent to Nazis but despises Bertolt Brecht and who hasn’t had sex in three years but still pines for a girl named Hitler. It makes no sense, but it’s brilliant. --Bill Ott


“Gobsmackingly clever.” ―Vanity Fair

The Teleportation Accident is a singular novel -- singularly clever, singularly audacious, singularly strange--from a singular, and almost recklessly gifted, young writer.” ―Time.com

“Endlessly witty and furiously inventive, Ned Beauman's second novel... consolidates [his] stature as a formidably accomplished writer... Beauman flaunts an almost indecently pleasurable way with words as he piles on outrageous developments... This [is a] dazzling entertainment. It's rare for a book to stimulate the brain cells and the funny bone with equal gusto, but Beauman has a knack for embedding trenchant philosophical blasts in punch lines... You laugh, then you flinch. On the evidence of his first novel, Boxer Beetle, and now this brilliantly clever and covertly humane book, Beauman promises to keep us laughing and flinching for years to come.” ―The Washington Post

“Brilliant... If there was ever any worry that [Beauman] might have crammed all his ideas into his first book, the prize-winning Boxer, Beetle, this makes it clear he kept a secret bunker of his best ones aside.” ―Joe Dunthorne, The Guardian

“Fiendishly clever... This fizzy novel is a great time machine all its own, jumping between the Renaissance and the future, flirting with noir, sci-fi, and romance, and skewering the ‘same empty people going to the same empty parties' along the way. Every generation gets the hipster satire it deserves. But this one's for every generation. Grade: A” ―Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

“Inspired... Beauman has an unflagging imagination and an indefatigable gift for comedy.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Funny and startlingly inventive... Beauman is undoubtedly a writer of prodigious talent, and there are enough ideas [here]... to fill myriad lesser novels.” ―The Financial Times

“Brilliantly written... A confounding sci-fi-noir-comedy mashup overstuffed with astute social observations, high-brow literary allusions, stupendous Pynchonian names and prose so odd and marvelous that every few pages I had to stop and reread a passage.” ―Jennifer Reese, NPR.org

“There is so much going on in this truly bizarre novel―everything from slapstick to noir to steampunk―that discombobulated readers may feel as though they’ve fallen down a narrative wormhole. But what a wormhole! ... Brilliant.” ―Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)

“The oversized, exuberant, and farcical plot of The Teleportation Accident is more entertaining than any summary can convey... [Beauman] has the knack for populating his tale with absurd secondary characters, spinning seemingly minor details into long-running jokes, and for placing his protagonist into precarious, comically rich scrapes. The result is rewarding; there are no such thing as pointless digressions in The Teleportation Accident, just the rollicking tale of a hapless Loeser following his heart.” ―Daily Beast

“As wild a cast of eccentrics and madmen, scammers and venal self-servers, hapless saps and trodden-down dreamers, as you have seen since the heyday of J. P. Donleavy or Evelyn Waugh… Teleporting directly into the ranks of such mythomaniacal jesters as Nick Sagan and Christopher Moore, Ned Beauman kicks any sophomore qualms to the curb.” ―B&N Review

“Incredibly intelligent, fantastically distracted... You won't read a more memorable novel about sex, obsession and the sticky stuff of science fiction this year, if ever....Profoundly funny, and on the sentence level, simply exhilarating.” ―Tor.com

“Bizarre, original, and satisfying... [Beauman is] a special talent... He takes the sort of risks that writers under 30 should take, but rarely do.” ―BookPage

“Beauman has created a wacky mash-up of a hefty number of genres -- historical fiction, noir, slapstick, science fiction and satire -- populated by sinners, ghouls and Caltech physicists and set mainly in the pre-World War II period. And, yes, there is a teleportation device.” ―Star-Telegram (Fort Worth

“[A] pyrotechnical... violently clever... highly cerebral… frantically entertaining pasteboard extravaganza… Extraordinary.” ―The Sunday Times

“Popping with ideas, fizzing with vitality, and great fun.” ―The Independent on Sunday

“Stylistically radical... Virtuosic... An unquestionably brilliant novel, ribald and wise in equal measure... Witty and sometimes deeply moving.” ―Times Literary Supplement

“A glorious, over-the-top production, crackling with inventive wit and seething with pitchy humour . . . It's as if the English tradition of humorous novels (PG Wodehouse, Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh) and American comic fiction (Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, John Barth) have had their molecules recombined . . . A beguiling success.” ―The Scotsman

“If you care about contemporary fiction, you must read this.” ―Tatler


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1620400227
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620400227
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
It's hard to know where to start in reviewing Ned Beauman's Booker long-listed "The Teleportation Accident". At times it is lovable, brilliant and entertaining, at others you just want to tell it to sit in a corner quietly while it composes itself. A clue to both the brilliance and frustration of Beauman is in the vast range of writers to whom he has been compared in both this and his first novel "Boxer Beetle". There are hints of people as wide ranging as David Mitchell, PG Woodhouse, Douglas Adams, Raymond Chandler even Angela Carter to name just a few. Beauman takes a huge range of styles and genres and pushes them and bends them often to glorious effect, but it can be a challenge keeping up with him at times.

The result is a historical novel where the characters are largely uninformed by the times in which they live, a romance driven by lust and unrequited feelings, a science fiction novel that is based in the past and a detective story without a detective. Beauman references many literary writers, from ancient Greeks, Hemmingway, Joyce, Heidegger though to the sci-fi genre of HP Lovencraft and various playwrights, but the style is more Philip Marlowe than Christopher Marlowe.

Set mainly in the pre-World War 2 period, initially in Germany but moving to LA via Paris, Egon Loeser is a theatre set designer obsessed with the history of a teleportation device invented in the 1600s by an Italian set designer which failed spectacularly. Loeser is also self-pitying and sex-starved - the latter presumably affected by the former. Beauman's point is that there is repetition in events through time that is largely unaffected by the period in which it is set, and events can usually traced back to lust for a girl.
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Format: Hardcover
A dazzling stylist but no Thomas Pynchon, without whom this book could not have been written. I'm still old fashioned enough to think that making characters endlessly rehash the plot and explain everything is a sign that the puppet master's hands are showing too much, especially when the rehashing doesn't work on meta level either. This felt like a shaggy dog of a first draft badly in need of a good editor. Might make a good movie but doesn't engage from line to line like a great novel ought to. Too clever by half, though amazingly amusing at times. Best described as a "slog".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Many readers and most authors would welcome a comparison to Phillip Roth, but let me tell you something: I don't care that you're not getting laid. I don't care that you're bitter and self-centered and your penis isn't getting the attention that such a stunning monument surely deserves. You know what's not interesting? Something not happening.

The first 72% of this book was bizarrely tedious. In the midst of fascinating settings and potentially thrilling adventures, our hero is so fixated on himself that he makes everything around him meaningless. He wanders the earth looking, ostensibly, for the girl of his dreams. When he finds her, without ever having a moment of realization, she becomes meaningless as well. The end.

Some things actually do happen toward the end of the book. The wordcraft is bewitching--Beauman definitely has a way with the bitter word, although the anachronistic tone of the opening makes it hard to fully engage. But if hanging out with someone deliberately, obsessively self-centered is not your idea of a good time, there is a world of better stories that won't waste your time with empty bon mots.
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Format: Hardcover
With descriptions like the above, author Ned Beauman creates one of the wackiest books I have read in ages - maybe ever! - a wide-ranging novel about just about anything that comes into the author's head, told in glorious and inglorious imagery throughout. Though it is set almost entirely between 1931 and 1939 and does trace the idea of teleportation as a motif throughout the novel, it is not science fiction. Instead it is the story of Egon Loeser, a young set designer at the Allien Theatre in Berlin who is determined to do something spectacular with his life. A proponent of the New Expressionist theatre as a reaction to realism, Loeser is, quite frankly, the "loser" that his name suggests, almost totally lacking success in the area of paramount importance to him - sex. At the theatre, he is working on a production about Adriano Lavicini, a man who developed and used a Teleportation Device during a stage production in Paris in 1679. Lavicini's device was spectacular when it was used, ultimately causing the entire theatre to crumble, and leaving many dead in the collapse and ensuing fire. On the one occasion in which Loeser's Teleportation Device is used, it causes no such drama.

The idea that one might escape time and place through a Teleportation Device seems irrelevant to the literary and theatre crowd with which Loeser associates. The Depression is a major factor in the life of Weimar Germany in 1931, though "This so-called Depression makes no difference to us...Six million jobless doesn't seem like so many when none of us ever had any wish for a real job in the first place." Likewise, little notice is made when Loeser meets "Adele Hitler," except to note that she is "no relation" to another Hitler.
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