I’m glad I didn’t read this first novel by Ned Beauman before I read The Teleportation Accident. Not that Boxer, Beetle isn’t good—I just think that Beauman’s style is a little more polished in his later work, and I’m not such a great reader that I would have picked up on his genius in his debut work.
Because Beauman has this way of filling up a novel, so many people and places and silly little events, and yet it comes across very light, easy to digest. I’m guessing there’s more there than meets the eye, too (see above, re: I’m not the best reader) so a subsequent reading may be in order.
Homosexuality is used in the novel as a lens for the reader to consider what it meant to be Jewish back then. We look down our noses at such racism, but any reader today will have living memories of gay men and women being talked about in exactly the same way. There’s my sophomore college thesis statement. Let’s move on.
Like The Transportation Accident, this novel plays on the edges of World War II, without getting right into it, although with this work he’s much closer than in the other. Hitler is mentioned several times, although the book doesn’t touch on the holocaust, leaving that darkness for the reader to remember on his or her own.
This dark edge doesn’t overwhelm them book, however—Beauman manages to keep things just silly enough that one doesn’t get bogged down by lecturing. Part if this accomplished by contextualizing things in a modern-day thriller pastiche, although it’s more of a device than anything else, a means by which to add a “plot” without worrying about, you know, plotting.