Monday, May 2, 2011

Boxer Beetle by Ned Beauman

If you like Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union) or Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction (see clip below) among others), you'll enjoy the debut novel by Ned Beauman, Boxer Beetle (available in the US in August 2011; available from the UK now at this link).  It is a fun, eccentric and well-executed novel with a wild cast of characters.

First, there is Kevin "Fishy" Broom, a modern day dealer in Nazi memorabilia, who suffers from from trimethylaminuria: a rare condition that means he smells of rotting fish.  Fishy stays at home and traffics in Nazi items over the internet.  Then, there is Philip Erksine, a 1930s fascist and entomologist, who is trying to apply eugenics first to his study of beetles and then to humans.  There is also Sinner Roach, a five foot tall, nine-toed, Jewish, homosexual boxer, who Eriskine determines is a perfect subject for his studies.

The novel moves between two story lines.  The first plot line leads Fishy to a crime-scene and then a hunt for rare Nazi items and a murderer.  The second plot line is in the 1930s (the bulk of the book), in which Erksine pursues his eugenics experiments and Roach.

The book is witty, fun and well written.  Like Chabon's works, the book has a comic book feel but is excellent and well-paced literature.  Beauman was recently selected by the Guardian newspaper as one of Britain's 12 best new novelists.

A key document from the book:

A clip with Beauman:

Another review from Paperback Reader.
Pulp Fiction Clip:

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