by Ned Beauman
This is such an unusual book; what is it really about? Is it really about the Teleportation Device invented by of the 17th century Venetian inventor Lavicini, a event shrouded in mystery and intrigue? Is it about the attempts of various scientists to recreate Lavicini’s teleportation device for use in WW2? Or is it really just the story of Egon Loeser’s failing life, his failure to have the girl of his dreams, his failure to have any sex at all, or even find a new copy of his favourite pornographic book, his failure to understand anything of what is happening in his Berlin hometown, becoming a `refugee’ by accident.
I honestly do not know. The Teleportation Accident is as perplexing as it is confusing as it is strange. I was more than halfway through before I had any idea at all what was happening, or even begin to really get inside the story – was there a story? I still can’t tell you that there was. What story there was mainly about Loeser’s attempts to bed the girl of his dreams, who seemingly sleeps with every man she meets except poor Loeser. And what on Earth was the last chapter about? I ended up feeling it was best not to question anything but simply enjoy the glittering ride.
I loved the characters, Egon Loeser especially, who is wonderfully ineffectual, lazy and useless. His story flits and leaps through time and space by means of a linguistic style that is gymnastic, elastic, brilliant. The massive cast of characters are delightfully mixed and strange. It’s a sort of comic novel, I think – I’m pretty sure, it seemed very funny to me; calling the love interest (with shades of The Dangerous Brothers) ‘Adele Hitler (no relation)’ was a typical example of this book’s genius.
There are many wonderful quotes I could use to illustrate Ned Beuman’s extraordinary style but will settle for:
`That wasn’t actually Brecht by the way, said Achleitner. `It was Vanel, but he happened to be wearing one of those long red overcoats like Brecht always wears.’
`So why was there all that commotion by the door?’
`It turned out he had a corkscrew on him.’
In short, I enjoyed it enormously. I still haven’t a clue what it was about.