In the mid-1970s, the Amazing Telemachus Family were poised to become stars. But, despite their allegedly phenomenal magic and mind reading act, the Telemachus clan couldn’t predict what a nightmare their appearance on the mega-rated Mike Douglas Show was going to become. That night millions of television viewers watched the Amazing Telemachus Family crash and burn and, from that moment on, their lives were never the same again.
It’s two decades later and the family are still in turmoil. In fact, their psychic ‘gifts’ have got them into deeper trouble, not to mention a lot of debt. Teddy, the father, was always a conman and is constantly on the look-out for love, but it’s obvious he will never get over the death of his beloved Maureen, who had the genuine paranormal abilities that their children all inherited in one form or another. As for those children – Frankie is the telekinesis whizz whose psychic card counting has landed him in big trouble with the Chicago mafia; Irene, Frankie’s sister, has discovered that her job as an accountant and her powers as a human lie detector really don’t mix; and Buddy, their youngest sibling, has found out that his ability to see into the future has chained him to a life he cannot change. Although why he is digging a hole in their backyard is a mystery to everyone.
But it’s Irene’s 14-year-old son Matty who is really about to shake things up when he unexpectedly realises that he also has some of the Telemachus magic, and it’s going to hurl the family into their biggest and most dysfunctional adventure yet.
Spoonbenders is a magnificently twisted collision of a book that reads like Michael Chabon or John Irving but plays out in your head like the cast of Arrested Development just hijacked The X-Files and the whole thing is directed by Wes Anderson. It touches your heart while frequently being laugh out loud funny, and author Daryl Gregory expertly manages to juggle eccentric family dynamics, multiple points of view, broad farce, ‘70s (and ‘90s) nostalgia, the mob, secret government agencies and even the occasional mention of Cold War-era psychic warfare, to create a riotous comic epic that really shouldn’t work but somehow is impossible not to fall in love with. And, at the centre of everything, is a whole cast of quite wonderful characters who, despite their very special powers and constant lapses into insanity, are as fragile and confused as the rest of us. It’s a brilliant achievement and by the time you’re halfway through, you’ll wish you had your own psychic powers so that the Telemachus’s could adopt you.
SPOONBENDERS / AUTHOR: DARYL GREGORY / PUBLISHER: RIVERRUN / RELEASE DATE: 13TH JULY