Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Teleportation Accident: Readers' Guide

Since The Teleportation Accident has just received its very first print review*, and there are only a few weeks left until publication, I've decided it may be time to prepare for the possibility of real people finally reading my new book. To that end, I've compiled a short readers' guide. I'm certainly not suggesting you have to work your way through this to appreciate the novel, but it might be of interest if you're some sort of huge Beauman fan.

"he's done it again... the verve of a young Amis... a great romp of a novel, delightful in its inventiveness" - Prospect

Here, in no order, are a list of works that had some specific and notable impact on the conception of The Teleportation Accident. By 'specific', I mean there's a particular thing I could point out on the page: that's why e.g. Ulysses is on here – all modern fiction carries its genes, so normally its presence on a list like this would be redundant, but as much as I dislike Joyce's work it did shape this novel in certain direct ways – and that's also why e.g. Updike is not – although his influence on my style is pervasive and permanent, I don't think there are any discrete, tangible Updikean elements in the book.

The Shield (TV)
Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Ulysses by James Joyce
Assassin's Creed 2 (Xbox 360)
V by Thomas Pynchon
Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Seinfeld (TV)
"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" by HP Lovecraft
Planet of the Apes
The Drowned World by JG Ballard
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain
Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann
The Return of Bruce Wayne by Grant Morrison
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Those last two are, of course, by far the most recent books on this list. Most of the time publishing feels very slow, but not always – it gives me a lot of pleasure that Egan can publish her wonderful novel in summer 2010 and only two years later I can bring out my own thing that bears its traces. Meanwhile, the graphic novel The Return of Bruce Wayne was coming out in individual issues while I was writing The Teleportation Accident, which meant it stayed with me for several months, like some sort of weird environment factor affecting a pregnancy.

Historical figures
As is addressed self-referentially in The Teleportation Accident, I've made a rule for myself that in my fiction no real historical figure will ever be seen 'on stage'. (So far the only exception to this has been LL Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto, in Boxer, Beetle, and in that instance all his lines are taken directly from his published writings, so I haven't had to make anything up. ) However, in the new book, there are dozens of real historical figures mentioned, and I think in some cases the reader might enjoy the book a bit more if he or she is able to pick them out. For instance, if I'd invented Serge Voronoff myself, his life story might seem gratuitously, tiresomely zany. But every detail about him is true. Here are links to the Wikipedia pages of a few of these real historical figures – appropriate, because I always begin my research on Wikipedia. (I'm not including very famous people like Hitler; arbitrarily, I have set the upper threshold for notoriety at Brecht.)

Sylvia Beach
Bertolt Brecht
Harry Chandler
Alfred Doblin
George Grosz
Cordell Hull
Fritz Kortner
HP Lovecraft
Titus Lucretius Carus
Robert Millikan
Willi Munzenberg
Nicolas Sauvage (no Wikipedia entry yet)
Henri Sauval
Giacomo Torelli
Jean-Jacques de Villayer

I haven't compiled a full bibliography this time but here are ten of the most enjoyable books that I encountered during my research – I would recommend all these to anyone.

Daily Life in Venice at the Time of Casanova by Maurice Andrieux (out of print)
Los Angeles by Reyner Banham
Exile's Return by Malcolm Cowley
City of Quartz by Mike Davis
Before the Deluge by Otto Friedrich 
Memoirs of Montparnasse by John Glassco
The Monkey Gland Affair by David Hamilton (out of print)
Raymond Chandler by Tom Hiney (out of print)
HP Lovecraft by Michael Houllebecq
The Crazy Years by William Wiser (out of print)

The title
Here is a list of incorrect renderings of the title of the book that are already proving popular.

The Teleportation Incident
The Transportation Accident

(This has been previously published on this blog.) Around the time that I was about to send the final proofs of The Teleportation Accident to Sceptre, I noticed that the selection of animals named in the text seems unusually diverse for a book that is not explicitly zoological in theme. Here are all 48.

bat, bison, blackbird, budgerigar, cat, chicken, chimpanzee, cockroach, cow, coyote, cricket, dog, duck, electric eel, elephant, fox, frog, goat, grizzly bear, horse, housefly, iguana, loris, mouse, mussel, ostrich, oyster, panda, peacock, penguin, pig, pigeon, rat, rooster, seagull, silkworm, skunk, sloth, sparrow, spider, stag, starling, stingray, tiger, trout, turtle, wolf, woodpigeon

1 comment:

mayexist said...

A book I expected to find on this list after reading The Teleportation Accident: Erich Kästner's Fabian. (It was among those burnt in 1933.) The main character is the polar opposite of Loeser (he is painfully aware of the political situation and has sex almost chapterly, among other things)to a degree that seems almost impossible to be unintentional, but it looks like it was.