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Beauman's inspired second novel introduces us to peripatetic, ever-horny Egon Loeser, a Berlin set designer of the early 1930s who leaves his city on account of someone named Hitler-not Adolph, but Adele (no relation), a young beauty impervious to Egon's charms. He follows her to Paris, then L.A., as his social set flees the encroaching horrors of National Socialism at home. Egon finds his love at CalTech, working for a physicist who might have discovered the secret of teleportation, a coincidence, because back in Berlin, Egon was working on his own, stagecraft version, based on an elaborate mechanical device from 1679. There are others who covet the physicist's secret, including a crime novelist's cuckolding wife and a cracked Pasadena millionaire who has made his fortune in car polish, and Egon becomes enmeshed in a conspiracy involving an NKVD spy, a serial killer, and the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Beauman (Boxer, Beetle) has an unflagging imagination and an indefatigable gift for comedy. His overstuffed (in a good way) novel comprises memorable comic dialogue and hilarious set pieces. While Egon may not be the most admirable of protagonists, in Beauman's hands his voyage of self-discovery illuminates a pivotal moment in 20th-century history. Agent: David Forrer, Inkwell Management. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Egon Loeser, an avant-garde set designer in Weimar-era Berlin, is obsessed with a girl named Adele Hitler (no relation), who, like most other girls, won't sleep with him, forcing Egon to spend his evenings with the alluring women portrayed in a pornographic novel called Midnight at the Nursing Academy. Then there is his current project, designing the sets for an Expressionist production of a play about Renaissance set designer Lavicini, whose so-called teleportation device (think Beam me up, Scotty ) exploded in a crowded Italian theater. Loeser hopes to re-create the teleportation device for a spectacular finale that will gain him the respect he craves from his fellow dissolute artists. Naturally, it all goes bad. Fraulein Hitler hooks up with Egon's worst enemy, and the teleportation device explodes, well, prematurely, forcing Egon to escape to Paris and from there to California. Tragically, he loses his favorite book en route. Egon can run, but he can't hide. Adele turns up in California, too, working for a wacky scientist who appears to be experimenting with something very like a teleportation device. There is so much going on in this truly bizarre novel everything from slapstick to noir to steampunk that discombobulated readers may feel as though they've fallen down a narrative wormhole. But what a wormhole! Beauman, a kind of comic version of Nick Harkaway in Angelmaker (2012), gives us an apolitical German in 1930s Berlin who is indifferent to Nazis but despises Bertolt Brecht and who hasn't had sex in three years but still pines for a girl named Hitler. It makes no sense, but it's brilliant.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2010 Booklist