The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman
Five words from the blurb: experimental, theatres, mysteries, cosmic, noir
The Teleportation Accident is a bizarre book! It is so weird that I’m not sure I really know what it is about and that was my main problem with the book. So many different themes were covered: from 17th century inventors, through 1930s Germany, to Paris and Los Angeles. It also included science fiction, romance, sex, mystery and violence. I thought there was too much going on and struggled to see the connection between all the different aspects of the book.
The writing lacked subtly – everything seemed to bounce off the page and I became drained by the over-enthusiasm of it all. It often came across as pretentious and I’m afraid that lots of little things that were probably supposed to be amusing/clever just annoyed me (for example naming the central character’s girlfriend Adele Hitler).
Some of the descriptions were vivid, but some made no sense to me:
I abandoned the book after about 80 pages, but skim read some other sections. Perhaps it all makes sense once you’ve finished the book, but I’m afraid the writing style was too bizarre for me.
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
Five words from the blurb: Bombay, opium, poor, underworld, broken
Narcopolis is set in Bombay’s underworld. It is filled with a cast of characters who live in this world of drugs, prostitution and poverty. The writing is outstanding and the book is filled with quotable passages:
It captured the atmosphere of the opium dens perfectly, but I struggled with the number of characters – there were so many that I couldn’t connect with any of them. The plot also seemed non-existent. It meandered from one beautifully rendered scene to another, but there was no hook to keep my attention.
The dream-like, hallucinogenic nature of the writing will appeal to many people, but I struggled to follow what was happening and became frustrated by the amount of information that was going over my head. I abandoned it after about 100 pages.
This book is deserving of its Booker longlisting and I’m sure that anyone willing to put in the effort to read (and re-read) this book will be rewarded, but I’m afraid I prefer books with a more compelling plot.
Have you read either of these books?
Did you enjoy them more than I did?