Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Teleportation Device: Ned Beauman

A brief description of this book at Bloomsbury Publishing:
When you haven't had sex in a long time, it feels like the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone. If you're living in Germany in the 1930s, it probably isn't.
But that's no consolation to Egon Loeser, whose carnal misfortunes will push him from the experimental theatres of Berlin to the absinthe bars of Paris to the physics laboratories of Los Angeles, trying all the while to solve two mysteries: whether it was really a deal with Satan that claimed the life of his hero, the great Renaissance stage designer Adriano Lavicini; and why a handsome, clever, charming, modest guy like him can't, just once in a while, get himself laid. 
My husband's review at Goodreads:
I was drawn to this book because a) the concept of teleportation - with its dematerializing of objects for transport from one place to another - seems an interesting subject and b) the cover art is extremely cool. The hero (if hero is a good term here) is theatrical designer Egon Loeser and we follow him from 1931 Berlin to early 1940s Los Angeles in his pursuit of the unattainable Adele. In addition to Adele, Loeser is obsessed with Lavicini, a 17th century theatrical designer who may have invented a teleportation device that actually worked. Mix in shadowy Russian spies, a pulp mystery writer, references to H.P. Lovecraft, a possible ghost, plus a Parisian con man and you have quite a stew. In the end though, I'm not really sure what the book is or is about or even if it is successful. That cover art is great though.

My thoughts:

This book was the last book I read in 2014.  I have been putting off writing a review because I don't know what to say about it. I did not hate it, but I did not enjoy the book while reading it. In the end, I gave it 4 stars at Goodreads, because I felt that the good outweighed the bad. I concluded that it is a well written book that just isn't really for me.

My one-sentence synopsis: As Egon Loesor searches for one woman who has disappeared from his life, many interesting things happen to him and he survives on his wits or his luck. The interesting elements are nice, but they are not enough. A good portion of the story is set in the US, and I enjoyed those parts the most. How true to life the picture of the Hollywood area at this time is, I don't know, but it was still nice to read about.

One disappointment for me was that I expected there to be more science fiction elements to the story. It is loosely based on a teleportation device, but that is not really what the story is about. However, I am sure if I had found other appealing elements, I could have easily overcome the problem. The description on the dust jacket flap implies that the book has elements of historical fiction, romance, noir, and science fiction. That is true, but I don't want a novel to flirt with all of these genres and be a mish mash of them.

My comments above show that a lot of my frustration with the book was due to my expectations. When I go back to the book and read a page or two, I see that the writing is very well done and interesting. But as I was reading it, as a whole it did not appeal to me. This is a book that I plan to re-read, and I expect to like it more the second time around. My husband and I still intend to keep this book, so we haven't written it off. And it does have a wonderful cover.

Many, many reviewers loved this book. There were also reviewers who hated it but I would say overall there are more positive reviews. Certainly the reviews from major publications that I read were very positive.

Here are some other reviews:


Publisher:   Bloomsbury USA, 2013 (orig. pub. 2012)
Length:      357 pages
Format:      Hardcover
Setting:      Berlin, Paris, USA
Genre:        Historical Fiction
Source:      I purchased my copy.


Anonymous said...

Nice cover art but in the end though, it doesn't sound like my cuppa.

TracyK said...

Probably not, Keishon, but it is hard to say. I really wanted to like it, and I may yet find more things to like.

Bill Selnes said...

TracyK: I will definitely pass.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tracy, for your candor. This doesn't sound like my sort of thing, to be honest. I don't mind going outside of my comfort zone sometimes, if a book is really well written and so on. But it sounds as though this one isn't sure what it wants to be. I think I'll give this one a miss.

TracyK said...

Bill, I would have liked to know your opinion of it. I did not find the humor in the book, and was taking it too seriously, I think.

TracyK said...

Margot, every book is not for every reader (and we have so much to read already). As I said to Bill, I would love to know your opinion if you ever do try it.

Sarah said...

Interesting and honest review. I think it's made me more likely to read the book as it sounds like something you really couldn't make up your mind about. Thanks!

TracyK said...

Thanks, Sarah. I do think this is the type of book that is worth trying and many of readers will get a lot out of it. Very difficult to describe.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I actually do enjoy crime when mixed with fantasy when John Dickson Carr does it - and as long as it plays by its own rules I have no problem with mixing genres. I havce a feeling that the obsessive protagonist may not be someone I would want to spend several hundreds in the company of however hmm - thanks Tracy, really enjoyed having the 'family perspective' on this one!

col2910 said...

Boxer Beetle I have, but this one doesn't grab me TBH. I think I'll stick!

TracyK said...

Sergio, I like crime mixed with fantasy or science fiction but this one did not have enough of either for me. Some people have described it as alternative history, although I did not see it as that either. You might enjoy it, it is very clever, but a lot of that goes over my head.

TracyK said...

When you read and review Boxer Beetle, Col, I will see what you have to say on that one.

Elizabeth said...

I like the cover. Too bad the book wasn't that great. Thanks for your honest review.

I LOVE your blog.

I am going to subscribe.

THANKS for stopping by my Quebec City and Louise Penny post.

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Elizabeth said... appears I am already subscribed to your blog.

I never get any updates. I will have to check my settings.


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Clothes In Books said...

Tracy - I think I was the opposite, I was expecting more of a sci fi plotline, and it NOT having that was a plus in my view. Plus, I did find if very funny. I can't tell - have your or Glen read Boxer Beetle? I preferred this one.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. A lot of readers did enjoy this book, it just wasn't a book for me, right now.

TracyK said...

Moira, I do remember that you found the book funny, and many other reviews said the same. I could see that the situations were humorous but I could not get into that aspect of it, which might be one key to enjoying it. Glen and I have not read Boxer Beetle and I had never heard of this author before. Some descriptions of Boxer Beetle lead me to think I would like it, but I am not sure.

Taken in pieces, I could admire the writing in The Teleportation Device. I can admire what Beauman has done. As a whole, I did not enjoy it. I do think I would like it on re-reading, because I would be reading piece by piece and not worrying about an ending, a resolution.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, thanks for the review. I think I'll hold back on this one for now. "Egon Loesor" is quite a telling name in context of the story.

TracyK said...

You are correct about the name, Prashant. But it will tell you something about the way I read that I did not even notice that until other reviews pointed it out.