“When you haven’t had sex in a long time, it feels like the worst thing that could ever happen. If you’re living in Germany in the 1930s, it probably isn’t.” So begins the blurb to describe Ned Beauman’s The Teleporation Accident; and for theatrical set designer Egon Loeser, having sex is the seemingly most important thing—more important than following current political plots. But when he reconnects with Adele Hitler (no relation to Adolf), his obsession with sex focuses solely on winning over this captivating girl.
He follows her from Berlin to Paris and Los Angeles in a quest to win her love, but in the process he gets inadvertently caught up in the political machinations of the time. Surrounded by a cast of hilarious, satirical characters including the blond Brit hack writer Rackenham; gay best friend and budding Nazi Achleitner; and reclusive, disturbed scientist Bailey, Loeser’s adventures take some surprising twists as he spends nearly a decade trying to bed Adele.
Sprinkled throughout the novel are circular references to the famed teleportation accident by stage designer Lavicini in 1679 that inspired Loeser’s recreation of said accident in a sprawling play about Lavicini’s life. Beauman’s inventive story-within-a-story is more akin to Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin than David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, but either way he’s in good company. The Scotsman newspaper accurately attributes his style and influence in this quotation, “It’s as if the English tradition of humorous novels (P.G. Wodehouse, Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh) and American crime fiction (Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, John Barth) have had their molecules recombined.” And if that isn’t a glowing enough recommendation, then I don’t know what to tell you.
If you enjoyed the winding, winking storytelling of Kristopher Jansma’s The Unchangeable Spots of the Leopards then you’ll easily get sucked into Beauman’s novel. Both are the best novels I’ve read this year, making it nearly impossible for any other author to surpass the wit expressed within these pages (but I certainly dare authors to try).