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Boxer, Beetle Paperback – 3 Mar 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340998415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340998410
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ned Beauman was born in 1985 in London. His debut novel, BOXER, BEETLE, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Desmond Elliot Prize and won the Writers' Guild Award for Best Fiction Book and the Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction. His second novel, THE TELEPORTATION ACCIDENT, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Encore Award and a Somerset Maugham Award. He has been chosen by the Culture Show as one of the twelve best new British novelists and by Granta as one of the 20 best British novelists under 40. His work has been translated into more than ten languages. www.nedbeauman.co.uk

Product Description

Review

a piece of staggeringly energetic intellectual slapstick . . . it's crammed with strange, funny and interesting things (Sam Leith, Guardian)

an enjoyable confection; witty, ludicrous and entertaining (James Urquhart, Financial Times)

An astonishing debut...buzzing with energy, fizzing with ideas, intoxicating in its language, Boxer, Beetle is sexy, intelligent and deliriously funny (Jake Arnott)

A rambunctious, deftly-plotted delight of a debut (Observer)

Ned Beauman's astonishingly assured debut starts as it means to go on: confident, droll, and not in the best of taste . . . Many first novels are judged promising. Boxer, Beetle arrives fully formed: original, exhilarating and hugely enjoyable. (Peter Parker, Sunday Times)

Frighteningly assured (Katie Guest, Independent on Sunday)

Exuberant . . . There are politics, black comedy, experimentation and wild originality - and I haven't even got to the beetles. Terrific. (The Times)

Debut bout is a real knockout . . . dazzling (Daily Express)

Its ambitions are enormous, in terms of the range, energy and quality of the writing (Literary Review)

Dazzling . . . As in PG Wodehouse and the early Martin Amis the tone is mischievous and impudent without being merely jaunty or wacky . . . in Erksine and Broom we have two endlessly curious heroes whose thoughts are fascinating even at their silliest. (Leo Robson, Express)

A witty, erudite debut . . . thick with trivia, it confidently takes on British fascism, the Thule society, anti-Semitism, atonal composition, sex, and the class system . . . An articulate and original romp . . . often gobsmackingly smutty. Beauman is one to watch. (Katie Allen, Time Out)

Not one for the easily shocked, young scribe Ned Beauman subjects the reader to a parade of ghoulish events and ghastly theories throughout his dazzling first novel Boxer, Beetle . . . deeply researched and punchily written, this is an utterly unique work that marks the London-based author out as an exciting new voice in fiction. (The List)

Beauman skips with panache between his dreadful version of the present and the macabre absurdities of a period when cock-eyed science and rabid anti-Semitism provided a toxic cocktail for the upper classes. His killer irony evokes early Evelyn Waugh, and his lateral take on reality Will Self at his unsettling best. This is humour that goes beyond black, careening off into regions of darkness to deliver the funniest new book I've read in a year or two. (Pete Carty, Independent)

Clever, inventive, intelligently structured, genre-spanning, as magpie-like in its references as any graphic novel, and above all, an enjoyable, high-octane read through a fascinating period in history. (Rob Sharp, Independent on Sunday)

The 1930s are wonderfully evoked, and the historical sections of the novel are taut, thematically rich and extremely well written . . . it takes real skill to make a tragic hero out of the five-foot, nine-toed alcoholic Seth Roach . . . it's clear from this compelling debut that Beauman can perform the complicated paradoxical trick required of the best 21st-century realist novelists: to take an old and predictable structure and allow it to produce new and unpredictable connections. (Scarlett Thomas, Guardian)

An edifying treatise on the absurdity of eugenics and racial theories, and probably the most politically incorrect novel of the decade - as well as the funniest . . . Monstrous misfits with ugly motives are beautifully rendered in a novel where Beauman's scrupulous research is deftly threaded through serious themes in a laugh-out-loud-on-the-train history lesson. (Anna Swan, Sunday Telegraph)

I can only gape in admiration at a new writing force and wonder what he's going to produce next. (Victoria Moore, Daily Mail)

The scenes set in the past are reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall in their grotesque stupidity and amorality, and the present-day characters are as ruthless as any in modern noir fiction. It also makes a persuasive argument for the moral repercussions of Darwinism and the absurdities of fascism and repressed homosexuality, but that's just three aspects of a witty, fascinating and romping read. (James Medd, Word)

Beauman writes with wit and verve. (Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times)

'This first novel is as oddball and rambunctious as it sounds. It's also funny, raw and stylish.' (New York Times)

Book Description

The wildly compelling, award-winning debut novel from the author of THE TELEPORTATION ACCIDENT.


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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This first novel moves between the present day and England a few years before the Second World War. Kevin, a collector of Nazi memorabilia and the sufferer of a very unpleasant medical condition, is sucked into a dangerous adventure, as he tries to unravel a seventy-year old mystery involving beetles, boxers, eugenics, and fascists.

Among the book's great characters, are an upper-class entomologist, a beautiful but violent Jewish boxer, and a spirited composer of atonal music who longs to escape from her family so she can go to a big city and learn to be witty, ironic, and brittle. Some of these people may not be particularly likeable (although one does warm to Seth 'Sinner' Roach, the boxer) but they are always interesting, and are treated with enough depth that, as well a being repelled, one also feels compassion when faced with their flaws, failings, and delusions.

'Boxer Beetle' displays a great depth of learning and the reader learns about invented languages, anti-Semitism in England and America before the war, and the battle of Cable Street among other things. The recreation of thirties England feels perfect.

In conclusion this book is funny, exciting, and clever; telling its story with confidence and verve, whilst never becoming pretentious or vacuous.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By C. Bones VINE VOICE on 3 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I desperately wanted to like this book. Its unusual enough and "clever" enough that I wanted to get that buzz of excitement at discovering something fresh and original. But in the end I found it hard work. Always clever. Always taking me down unusual pathways and telling me interesting things about subjects that I knew nothing about, but somehow missing out as true story-telling. Somehow missing a heart.

The good news is that the book is ambitious, inventive and well written. So I'm sure the author will be worth following in the future.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By deadbeat VINE VOICE on 10 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book mostly on the strength of its cover. I know that's supposed to be a rookie mistake, but then again, the graphics are charming, the book is well-made, with good-quality paper and so on; and it turns out it was a jolly good read anyway. The title, also, was a bit of a draw: it seemed to promise something Kafkaesque; though in that regard it didn't quite deliver. Instead of Kafka's labyrinths we are presented with a mixture of crime, obscenity, and scientific discourse. That is to say: with murder, lots of graphic hetero- and homosexual intercourse (though mostly homo-), invented languages, dissonance, Darwinism, eugenics, and Nazism. It's a good recipe, especially if you're one of those readers who likes to come away from his (or her) reading feeling a bit grubby.

The book switches back and forth mostly between two time-lines, before World War II and the present. In the past we are given the story of the relationship between two very different individuals: Seth Roach and Sir Philip Erskine; one a talented Jewish boxer from London's East-end, the other an aristocrat interested in eugenics. The former, a law unto himself, and prone to violence; the latter, a bit of a fop. Both of them are gay, though Sir Erskine is in denial. In the present we follow a despicable boy, Kevin Broom, in his hunt (under duress) for a certain piece of Nazi memorabilia. What makes Kevin particularly distasteful is his infliction with a certain condition, trimethylaminuria, which basically means he sweats urine.

Of course, the two stories link together quite well; the plot is well constructed, and to the author's credit, what we have here is a bit of a page-turner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Poldy on 24 April 2013
Format: Paperback
A murder-mystery that moves from the 1930s to the present day, taking in East End Jews, boxing, beetles, a sinister Welsh hitman, an upper class family, Nazi memorabilia, and even a letter from the Fuhrer himself. Protagonist Kevin, sufferer of a rare medical condition who conducts most of his social life on-line, is compelled literally at gun-point to investigate what really happened to a thuggish East End Jewish boxer in the 1930s.

A bizarre mix of characters populate this hilarious and witty first novel, including Fascists, both dedicated and half-hearted, entomologists, ruthless property-developers and on-line memorabilia collectors. I can see that this won't be for everyone, but I found it hilarious and very well-written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By fileyfan on 15 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover
You can put all kinds of nonsense into a title, or a novel: tongue-in-cheek asides; in jokes; half references to obscure theses; smart-alec allusions; and all manner of obscure imagery. But if the themes don't hang together, if your novel hasn't got proper structure, and a heart, then it just becomes a series of vaguely connected vignettes, anecdotes, characters and action sequences that don't fit together; and unless you're as clever and talented as T.S.Eliot, you fall flat on your aspiring face. Boxer beetle is all over the place. It's a disaster of a novel, and an irrelevant attempt at literature.
Now then, where did I put that luminous angel fish that I use to light my way out of this librarians' labyrinth?
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By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback
Ned Beauman has an unusual, rather unfashionable set of influences: the comic novelists of the 1930s - not just Evelyn Waugh, but Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood and Anthony Powell, too. He has fused this heritage with a knowingness about the devices of fiction that stems from their postmodernist successors, and a knowledgeable love of genre fiction. The result is a comic vision that is rather more than pastiche. The writers I mention were, after all, writing about their own times. Beauman is writing about his time, too, but at one remove: using a particular version of the interwar years as a lens to examine our current preoccupations.

'Boxer, Beetle' moves fluidly between the present and a boldly imagined past in pursuit of a plot that in other hands might have made for an Indiana Jones movie. Fascists and futurists, pseudoscience and avant-garde art, Jewish gangsters and renegade entomologists rub shoulders; Beauman's skill is such that these juxtapositions only rarely seem forced. The author's research - into obscure diseases, unusual insects, the East End boxing milieu - is deployed without strain and almost succeeds in making a fundamentally unlikely story convince. In Seth 'Sinner' Roach he has also created at least one truly memorable character, and given a book that risks being merely clever a genuine emotional heart.

Beauman, who was only 25 when this book was published, is master of an alert, witty prose style. Though this is a debut novel, there are few of the characteristic weaknesses of apprentice work. If Beauman on this showing isn't yet quite in Waugh's league, he may at least be discussed in the same sentence without embarrassment. He certainly has the conscious intelligence of the young Waugh and Huxley.
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