“Teddy Telemachus is a charming con man with a gift for sleight of hand and some shady underground associates. In need of cash, he tricks his way into a classified government study about telekinesis and its possible role in intelligence gathering. There he meets Maureen McKinnon, and it’s not just her piercing blue eyes that leave Teddy forever charmed, but her mind—Maureen is a genuine psychic of immense and mysterious power. After a whirlwind courtship, they marry, have three gifted children, and become the Amazing Telemachus Family, performing astounding feats across the country. Irene is a human lie detector. Frankie can move objects with his mind. And Buddy, the youngest, can see the future. Then one night tragedy leaves the family shattered.
Decades later, the Telemachuses are not so amazing. Irene is a single mom whose ear for truth makes it hard to hold down a job, much less hold together a relationship. Frankie’s in serious debt to his dad’s old mob associates. Buddy has completely withdrawn into himself and inexplicably begun digging a hole in the backyard. To make matters worse, the CIA has come knocking, looking to see if there’s any magic left in the Telemachus clan. And there is: Irene’s son Matty has just had his first out-of-body experience. But he hasn’t told anyone, even though his newfound talent might just be what his family needs to save themselves—if it doesn’t tear them apart in the process.
Harnessing the imaginative powers that have made him a master storyteller, Daryl Gregory delivers a stunning, laugh-out-loud new novel about a family of gifted dreamers and the invisible forces that bind us all.”
My Thoughts: Spoonbenders is one of those novels that has a little bit of everything. It has gangsters and the CIA. It has psychic ability and con men. It has larger-than-life characters and those that garner almost no attention. It will make you laugh (a lot), tear at your heartstrings, and make you appreciate the craziness that is family. It does all this in one entertaining story that charms its way into your heart and lingers upon finishing.
The novel follows the Telemachus family as they live their daily lives. What starts out as separate incidents and experiences among the family members comes together into a family crisis that befits this crazy family. As part of the build-up to the crisis, we learn more about the family’s past, the tragedy that befell them and the hard luck that seemingly followed them after their act fell apart. These flashbacks do much to develop each member and flesh them out as people as well as explain more of the family dynamic. The story is outlandish but befits the family given their associates and friends as well as their own over-the-top personalities. The result is a story that would simply not work with any other cast but is perfect for this family and highly entertaining.
Given the large cast of characters, it would be easy to assume they are one-dimensional. Given the inclusion of the mob as well as the government, one’s assumptions might also include the idea that the characters are caricatures as well. In this regard, Mr. Gregory dashes all expectations by creating characters who leap off the page and into your heart. The entire Telemachus clan becomes your family, and you are effortlessly enfolded into their drama. Even the secondary characters find ways to break their stereotypical roles to become people we can understand and to whom it is relatively easy to relate. Since the family is the novel, relating to them, laughing and crying alongside them is essential.
In Spoonbenders, the Telemachus family is the story and the story is the Telemachus family. Like other family dramas, it reminds you that you cannot choose your family, and it also reminds you that family always supports one another. Along the way, you fall in love with this larger-than-life group that embraces life, its successes, and its failures.