London doesn’t really have a literary hipster scene, but if it did, Ned Beauman would be centre stage. The 27-year-old novelist may look like he’s crawled out of an evolution of man diagram, but he’s very clever and very trendy and, despite having gone to Cambridge, knows a lot about ketamine. His show-offy but energetic first book, Boxer Beetle, came out in 2010 to deafening acclaim and earnt him a six-figure publishing deal, unheard of in these austere times unless you’re a dog who’s won a talent contest. After spending a couple of years hanging out with cool, arty people in Brooklyn and Berlin, Beauman is back in town to promote his new book, The Teleportation Accident. Although, judging by the interview he gave to the Observer yesterday, ‘promote’ may not be the best word for it.
Asked if he felt under pressure to produce a successful follow-up, Beauman replied:
‘Boxer, Beetle got a lot of praise and a little bit of criticism. What seems to stick in my mind is praise from the wrong people. Obviously this is incredibly elitist and snobbish, but then that’s my prerogative as a novelist. The people who wrote four-star Amazon reviews were almost more annoying than the one or two-star reviews, because of the way they looked at the book.’
I headed over to Amazon to see which of the four-star reviews (of which there turned out to be just four) had made him so cross.
Could it have been ‘deadbeat’, who bought the book ‘mainly on the strength of its cover’ and found it a ‘page-turner’, though ‘perhaps lacking in emotion’?
Maybe it was ‘Quicksilver’, who was reminded of Jonathan Coe, summing up the novel as ‘like What a Carve Up!, with Nazis.’
Surely it can’t have been ‘Eleanor’ who called Boxer, Beetle a ‘rollicking read’ and found it ‘funny, exciting, and clever’?
Aha! The one who really got his goat must have been ‘Keris Nine’ who thought the novel was ‘challenging and interesting’, despite having a ‘scarcely a single likeable character’, ‘some pretty distasteful views on the Jewish race and eugenics’ and ‘rather distasteful scenes of sex and sodomy’. Jeez, can’t they tell it’s art? What an idiot. And they can’t spell ‘surrealism’.
You’ll be relieved to hear that far from being disheartened by these morons’ compliments, Beauman decided to use them to his advantage:
‘I wanted to take all the caveats they had and really emphasise those things, to slough off as many of them as possible.’
Keris Nine, if you’re reading this, probably best avoid The Teleportation Accident.
Which, incidentally, has got some cracking early reviews. Phil Baker in the Sunday Times called it ‘an extraordinary, Pynchonesque flea-circus of a book’, while James Kidd in the Independent on Sunday said it was ‘popping with ideas, fizzing with vitality, and great fun to quaff’, although he ‘occasionally pictured Beauman as a talented but over-functioning young magician unable to stop pulling bunnies out of hats.’
Let’s leave the last word, however, to a commenter underneath Ned Beauman’s Observer interview, who remarked: ‘Sounds like a four-star t****r to me.’Tags: across the literary pages, Amazon, book reviews, Books, Britain, Fiction