"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Spoonbenders

TITLE: Spoonbenders
AUTHOR: Daryl Gregory

I'm torn between calling this a work of science fiction, fantasy, or plain fiction, though there's nothing plain about it. The protagonists are the Amazing Telemachus family. Patriarch Teddy, now in his 70s, was a top stage magician who feigned magical powers. His three now adult children and grandchildren, however, have true magical abilities, which they inherited from their late grandmother, Maureen Telemachus, a talented astral traveler. Youngest Buddy sees the future, middle offspring Frankie has unreliable telekinesis, and oldest Irene is a human lie detector. Her teenage son Matty, at the start of the novel, has discovered his ability to travel outside his body. Despite of or due to their abilities and one-time claim to fame as a family act, before they were disgraced on national television, the Telemachuses are a dysfunctional bunch, constantly at odds with each other and their own ambitions.

Frankie, in financial difficulty, is looking for a quick fix. Irene, unable to accept the everyday lies people tell her, is distrustful of everyone. Buddy, having seen a bleak future, is stuck trying to live out the life he's foreseen. Teddy has befriended the daughter-in-law of the mobster he once worked for until things went sour. And Matty has discovered both the thrill of OBEs (out of body experiences) and puberty. Then, to give the dynamic more gravity, there's the specter of the government operative who once used psychics to spy on Russians during the Cold War. Maureen had been his star psychic warrior and he's hoping one of her grandchildren, mainly Matty, can fill her shoes.

Gregory weaves the stories of the Telemachus family in alternating viewpoint chapters, slowly bringing all the disparate elements together in a madcap climax that is both thrilling and poignant. I came to love these quirky characters and I would love to read more about them.