Wednesday 5 June 2013

The Teleportation Accident

Ned Beauman, 2012
(June 2013)

Ned Beauman is an arsehole.

Time passes for all for all of us. I’ve mentioned before how I’m now of an age when professional sportsman start hanging up their boots, and how this depresses me. Thank god for Ryan Giggs giving hope to all us frustrated sportsmen the world over; still winning championships and (not so) secretly having it away with reality TV stars cum glamour models as he approaches his fifth decade on the planet.

Thank god also for Granta and their lists, by whose definition I still easily qualify as ‘young’. Plenty of time left yet.

And then I read this and am blown away. And then I read the author bio which informs me that Mr. Beauman was born in 1985 and is thus so young that he’d create a genuine moral dilemma for many were he to commit a gruesome triple-murder in the American bible-belt. Yes, he’d deserve the chair but it’d also technically count as a late-term abortion. What to do?

Look at this:

… 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.

And then look at this:

‘I will bet you anything you like – sorry, Hitler? Do you mean Adele’s father?’
‘No relation.’
‘Right, as I was saying, I will bet you anything you like that this other Hitler, whoever he is, will never make one bit of difference to my life.’
‘Careful, Egon,’ said Achleitner. ‘That’s the sort of remark that people quote in their memoirs later on as a delicious example of historical irony.’

I know that out of context that second passage comes across as a bit too arch and knowing, as obviously self-indulgent meta-wank. In situ however it’s just a bit cheeky. Have you any idea how much talent you need to have to indulge in stuff like that and get away with it? The protagonist is an utterly wretched no-hoper called, wait for it, Loeser.

For fuck’s sake. It’s all too much, it’s all too clever, it’s all too pleased with itself in the manner of a horny and pretentious sixth-former with a copy of Roget’s and too much time on his hands. Yet it works, and works brilliantly.

So Ned Beauman is an arsehole, but his book is very, very good.


  1. This is a brilliant review.

  2. I agree with two dudes, this is a really fun review. I'm not sure I'll ever read the book. I've read enough about it to know that there are parts I'm just not interested in, but I mentioned elsewhere when the book came out that this is one of my favorite covers ever. I just love the design.

  3. Thank you both. I'm not sure it really qualifies as a 'review' though; more a brief and envious ejaculation.

    Carl - Yeah, it's a fine line at times. I could see how the style could wear a little thin if you anything less than wholly into it. And I agree, the cover is fantastic. I actually picked it to win The KItschies and it was the only one I got wrong, which shows what I know...

    1. It was my guess to with The Kitschies too and honestly it was the best cover of the lot and should have won, if not easily, then handily.

  4. It's the ironic, English manner, isn't it?

    Pip pip Old Boy. Chin up, play on etc etc.

  5. " self-indulgent meta-wank..."

    It suddenly makes sense that I have few friends and get very little done in the way of real productivity.

    1. Glad I could help clarify matters ;)

  6. Stiff upper lip?