So I have a confession team. I’m seriously behind on my book reviews. Like ridiculously behind. Like my to-review pile has morphed from an achievable goal to a series of personal insults. Even the heading doesn’t respect me.
All of this to say, when I realized my next book to review was this book I finished weeks ago, called The Teleportation Accident, I had one reaction.
A quick scramble to Wikipedia gave me this blurb.
From the author of the acclaimed Boxer, Beetle comes a historical novel that doesn’t know what year it is; a noir novel that turns all the lights on; a romance novel that arrives drunk to dinner; a science fiction novel that can’t remember what ‘isotope’ means; a stunningly inventive, exceptionally funny, dangerously unsteady and (largely) coherent novel about sex, violence, space, time, and how the best way to deal with history is to ignore it. LET’S HOPE THE PARTY WAS WORTH IT
And then I remembered: I did read this book and it was some hipster nonsense. And worst of all, it proved to be forgettable. Which seems like a difficult thing for a post-postmodern, noir-ish, science fiction comedy to be.
Egon Loeser is the unluckiest man in 1930s Berlin. Well…except for the Jews. And the gays. And the Romani. But he wants to have sex with this girl and she won’t let him! The set designer is too sex-starved, to hungover, and too self-pitying to notice the history unfolding around him. Right before he leaves Berlin to chase a girl named Adele Hitler (no relation) he sees a group of what he thinks are students holding a bonfire outside the library. Thinking it’s some performance art, he joins in burning the works of authors he envies. Loeser’s constant knack for missing the history unfolding in front of him is one of the novel’s bright spots.
In love with little lady Hitler, Loesser follows the woman (unbeknownst to her) to Paris and later Los Angeles. On his travels, he’s convinced to impersonate a “doctor” and pretends to stich monkey glands onto the necks of aging socialites. He meets asexual avante-guard composers, paranoid scientists, and a tycoon-possibly in possession of a rare pornographic book- has a neurological disorder that renders him incapable of distinguishing things and pictures of things (As his butler calmly reminds him “That is not a pickle, sir, that is only a drawing of a pickle in black ink on a napkin.”).
I could tell that I was supposed to feel joyful abandon while reading The Teleportation Accident, that I was supposed to delight in the author’s clever writing, that I was supposed to embrace the intentional incoherence on the page. But instead I was exhausted. It felt like a poor imitation of Joseph Keller. A lot of people really liked this book, and I get why. But good for them, not for me. I wished I had let my conscience be my guide and bailed on this book early.