Boxer, Beetle

Boxer, Beetle

by Ned Beauman


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From the "effervescent" (Washington Post) author of Madness is Better than Defeat and The Teleportation Accident, a rollicking novel about fascism, boxing, entomology, eugenics, and desire.

Kevin "Fishy" Broom has his nickname for a reason: he has a rare genetic condition that makes him smell markedly like rotting fish. Consequently, he rarely ventures out of the London apartment where he deals online in Nazi memorabilia. But when Fishy stumbles upon a crime scene, he finds himself on the long-cold trail of a pair of small-time players in interwar British history. First, there's Philip Erskine, a fascist gentleman entomologist who dreams of breeding an indomitable beetle as tribute to Reich Chancellor Hitler's glory, all the while aspiring to arguably more sinister projects in human eugenics. And then there's Seth "Sinner" Roach, a homosexual Jewish boxer, nine-toed, runtish, brutish—but perfect in his way—who becomes an object of obsession for Erskine, professionally and most decidedly otherwise. What became of the boxer? What became of the beetle? And what will become of anyone who dares to unearth the answers?

Ned Beauman spins out a dazzling narrative across decades and continents, weaving his manic fiction through the back alleys of history. Boxer, Beetle is a remarkably assured, wildly enjoyable debut.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608196807
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 09/13/2011
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Ned Beauman was born in 1985 and studied philosophy at Cambridge University. He has written for Dazed & Confused, AnOther Magazine, the Guardian, the Financial Times, and several other magazines and newspapers. He lives in London.

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Boxer, Beetle 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
ccourtland More than 1 year ago
The synopsis of this story about sums it up and to add any more detail would surely ruin it for the reader. Imaginative and original, the Boxer Beetle is a collage of literary style, but not in a rip-off sort of way, but rather, cleverly interrogating classic greats paying homage to the boundary breakers who came before this generation. A pace-setting, genre-spanning tale that breeds Salinger, Kafka and Miller into a pretty specimen that can hold its own weight in any class or fight. Something about this dark tale gets under the skin and stews. I was thinking about it long after the back cover closed. It's a deeply thematic and morally provocative tale--definitely worth a read.
upstairsgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So the first thing you need to know about this book is that the writing is really great. Beauman puts together great sentences, and although I'm not going to be able to finish the book, I'm the subject matter (broadly eugenics and the Nazis, more specifically, entomology, Nazi memorabilia, and the psychology, or perhaps the pathology, if you will, of sex) is definitely interesting. In other words, the plot definitely pulled me in.There's a lot of violence in here, though, a lot of gross, gory violence, eloquently described but perpetrated against small animals and the otherwise sort of helpless, and I just can't do it, even though this is an Early Reviewer book. I looked back at the description, and I don't think it was misleading, but I wasn't prepared for the level of violence and the detail in which it is described, and I wouldn't have requested the book if I'd realized how important that would be to the plot. It's not on every page, but there's enough that it's too much for me. Your mileage, of course, may vary.The writing is really excellent, so I'm sad to have to put this down, but I won't sleep, I know, if I try to finish it. This isn't a book for me, but I tend to be a little more upset by this kind of thing than average, I think, and so I don't mean to dis-recommend the book, just to offer a warning about what you will find in it.
unluckycharms13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boxer Beetle follows to parallel stories, separated only by several decades. One is the story of a Jewish boxer in 1930s England who is being studied by entomologist-turned-eugenics doctor by the name of Erskine. A mystery surrounding the two is discovered by present day Kevin, a collector of Nazi Memorabilia. Kevin finds himself in trouble after his patron is killed and he is forced to search for the only bit of legacy left behind by the fascist-obsessed eugenics doctor. The book is an interesting fictionalization of Nazi ideology over time and eugenics. The characters are riveting if not always likable, although the details of the story can be a bit overwhelming.
aimless22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry to say that I didn't get this one. I did laugh in a few places, but I guess I'm not political enough to get the humor that is claimed on the cover.The narrative jumps between current times and the 1930s. We meet Kevin Brown, an internet trader who goes to auction sites to buy and sell Nazi memorabilia. Then we meet Seth "Sinner' Roach and Dr. Erkskine back in 1934. The doctor and Sinner have a strange arrangement where Sinner allows the doctor to study him for science. He had been doing these eugenics studies on beetles but wanted to move on to humans and chose Sinner.
knomad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not for the faint of heart - this tale is a combination of Evelyn Waugh's bitter English satire and Pynchonesque conspiracy metafiction with a dash of hard boiled noir. Only funnier and more pornographic. Nazis, bugs, buggery, and 1930's London class warfare.
checkadawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is an intriguing mix of past and present. There's a contemporary murder mystery plot that intertwines with the story of a collector of Nazi memorabilia and the period between the World Wars. This novel is entertaining and funny and also unique and a bit weird. Read this if you're looking for something different.
jeffsdfw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I now have finally found the time to read this book. I found myself laughing out loud more than once. Book was enjoyable, and fast paced. I have passed the book on to a friend.
abealy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boxer, Beetle is wonderfully written. Funny, raw and true to its mark, every sentence and phrase is jewel-like but not at all precious. The humor is dark and deadly. Grit underfoot and the taste of blood...rusty barbed wire and macabre death.The novel begins in the present day with Kevin ¿Fishy¿ Broom who suffers from trimethylaminuria, a rare condition that leaves him smelling horribly like rotting fish! He collects and deals in Nazi memorabilia. Fishy is a strangely likeable character. Working for wealthy property developer Grublock, who also collects Nazi memorabilia, he is sent to check up on a private investigator. Finding him dead, he also finds a note to someone called Dr. Erskine from Adolf Hitler. When Grublock is murdered, the novel turns into a tense fast-paced thriller as Fishy attempts to find out the connection between the entomologist Erskine, the jewish boxer ¿Sinner¿ Roach and whoever is on his trail and killing people. The novel alternates between the quest in the present day and, more often, chapters set in the 30s as the events take place.The characters are not likeable but you like them anyway. Seth ¿Sinner¿ Rauch, a jewish boxer in 1930s London is despicably heartwarming. Dr. Erskine the eugenics-obsessed entomologist is driven and wrong-headed but so sincere! There are no heroes in this novel. No one of redeeming character. Everyone is wonderfully engaging in the most goulish way. There are long lovely discussions about dissonant music, town planning and invented languages. Riots, sex and the supernatural all have a place in this brilliant first novel. And beetles...lots of beetles. A thoroughly satisfying read.
syntheticvox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book rather disappointing. It has already been released in the UK to (what seems to be) great reviews. Nevertheless, I had difficulty finishing the short novel. The story centers around Philip Erskine, a young entomologist and Nazi sympathizer in 1936. He becomes obsessed with a Jewish boxer, Seth Roach. The novel actually opens in modern-day London, with a murder and a number of Nazi memorabilia collectors. It isn't well into the novel that we understand why the two are connected. The characters, save for Sinner Roach, are completely unsympathetic, including the modern-day protagonist, Kevin, Inexplicably, he has a terrible smelling disease, trimethylaminuria. I have no idea why that was even added, nor do I care. The final third of the book picked up pace and interest, but by that time, I really hadn't gained any interest in Erskine. There were several tangents (Erskine's grandfather's obsession with creating a global language, for example) that added nothing to the book. Further, the "twists" (such as they were) were so late in the making that they didn't have any impact.
gwendolyndawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This genre-bending, unique novel is difficult to describe. There's a mystery plot, a collector of Nazi memorabilia, a eugenics doctor, insects, and the list goes on. I highly recommend reading this with friends or family so you can have someone to discuss the novel with (though you might not want to discuss those sex scenes!). I also enjoyed the abundant humor. Overall, this novel was more weird than wonderful, but I applaud its originality.
norinrad10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an extremely interesting premise. It's a mystery where the detective suffers from severe body odor. And when I say severe, I do mean severe. It was a hard premise to get into at first, fortunately the extremely good writing made it a lot easier. A very interesting read. Strongly recommended for those looking for a twist on the deceptive genre
xmaystarx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received Boxer Beetle as part of the Early Reviewers program. I was eager to dive in based on the description - combining historical fiction with science is right up my alley. But Beauman fell short for me here. The characters didn't seem fully developed, sure they were described well but they seemed to lack whatever it is that makes me truly care about fictional characters. The two timelines were interwoven nicely even if both could have been expanded a bit. Also, what was with all of the in your face gay sex? It seemed like Beauman went out of his way to make it known that several of the characters were gay and horny, neither of which added to the plot in any significant manner. I will say that I enjoyed the beetle aspect of the story line and would have liked a little more on that. The beetles after breeding by Erskine were certainly horrific and the scenes involving them were done well- made me squirm! I really wish I liked this book more than I did. I'll be interested in seeing future reviews and will keep Ned Beauman on my radar and consider reading future works.
loafhunter13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an intersing study in fiction of eugenics wrapped in chronological mystery. "The story centers around Philip Erskine, a young entomologist and Nazi sympathizer in 1936. He becomes obsessed with a Jewish boxer, Seth Roach. The novel actually opens in modern-day London, with a murder and a number of Nazi memorabilia collectors," writes syntheticvox. I aggree with that brief summary. The language and tone of the book are rather academic which is a striking contast to the base and emotionally honest dialogue and emotion expressed by the characters. The authors handles the chronoglocail shifts well and each character is larger than the description on the page. There are not sympathic characters in the book nor are there meant to be. Each character is a unique clash of opposite traits which only causes further conflict when confronted in groups of characters. The plot and writing do feel a bit two dimensional at times but the author is to be commeneded for interweaving so many character traits while using such a light touch. A nice film of dark comedy wraps the whole of the book. A strong effort that inidcates the rawness of the author is backed with plenty of talent.
Voise15 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable, mischievious page turner - reminiscent of Conan Doyle. Comes to a rather contrived conclusion unfortunately.
alexrichman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A likeable book, even if a crucial character (our titular boxer) is one of the most relentlessly unlikeable people I can recall reading about. Clever, charming, strange, funny and dark. What more can you want from a first novel - or any novel, for that matter?
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heathereg22 More than 1 year ago
so funny, smart and awesome.
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