Madness Is Better Than Defeat by Ned Beauman

Madness Is Better Than Defeat

Ned Beauman

Shot through with insanity, intrigue, ingenuity, and adventure, showcasing Beauman's anarchic humor, spectacular imagination, and riveting prose, Madness Is Better Than Defeat teases, absorbs, entertains, and dazzles in equal measure.

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A wild, astonishing literary thriller by arguably England's most accomplished young writer, about Manhattan and Hollywood in the 1930s, Mayan gods, and a CIA operation gone terribly wrong--the Man Booker short-listed Ned Beauman's magnum opus thus far.

In 1938, two rival expeditions descend on an ancient temple recently discovered in the jungles of Honduras, one intending to shoot a screwball comedy on location there, the other to disassemble the temple and ship it back to New York. A seemingly endless stalemate ensues, and twenty years later a rogue CIA agent sets out to exploit it for his own ends, unaware that the temple is a locus of conspiracies far grander than anyone could ever have guessed. Shot through with insanity, intrigue, ingenuity, and adventure, showcasing Beauman's anarchic humor, spectacular imagination, and riveting prose, Madness Is Better Than Defeat teases, absorbs, entertains, and dazzles in equal measure.


Advance Galley Reviews

I gave this book 100 pages. At first, I was willing to just go with the frivolity of the characters. Soon there were too many characters to keep track of, and I found myself skimming in an attempt to get to some action in the plot. It is rare for me not to finish a book, but this one is just not for me.

The discovery of a mysterious temple in the jungle of Honduras impacts the lives of many in Ned Beauman's Madness is Better Than Defeat. In the late 1930s two expeditions, one from New York that wants to take the temple apart at ship back to the States and another from Hollywood that wants to shoot a film on location with the temple, are both vying for the same temple hidden within the wilds of the jungle. When they coincidentally show up at the temple within days of each other, an odd relationship forms between them as they stubbornly refuse to leave the site in order to preserve their respective objective. As the decades pass with the two camps steady in their stalemate, a disorganized CIA investigation sparks some new life into the temple standoff.   Some intriguing concepts surrounding perception were raised throughout this narrative, and there's a hilarity to the nature of the stubborn stalemate between the two camps at the temple that mirrors humanity's seemingly innate desire to conquer. The writing is clever and easily demonstrates what ought to be conveyed, both explicitly and implicitly, but does have a tendency to wax on without an apparent direction. Though it helps to capture and portray the madness of the situation, the experimentation in format and timeline of events throughout to story made it more difficult to keep up and connect with, and the way the entire story fits together was a bit too contrived to make it seem at all realistic or probable.  Overall, I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Ok, I'm with the people who said it was complicated and confusing and random and all over the place - but unlike many, those things didn't intrigue me or grab me or make me read faster. They just lost me. I don't consider myself a lazy reader - I enjoy a book that makes me work for the story, as long as I have something (a character, a specific plot line/element, a setting) to latch onto. But somehow this one just didn't give me any such thing - I found myself floundering from the get-go, lost in decadence and what felt like unnecessarily complicated language (which made me wonder what the author was trying to hide, rather than pulled me in). This just wasn't a book for me...

I'm not sure how to describe this book. It was complicated and at times confusing. The timeline was hard to follow and the series of events sometimes confusing. But at the same time it hooked me. I wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery. It is such a bizarre story. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. I enjoyed the strangeness of it. There were strong characters, many likeable, some despiseable. It doesn't have chapters so I found myself having a hard time finding good stopping points, it just pulls you in and doesn't want to let go. I wouldn't recommend this to just anyone, but I did enjoy it. I'm curious to look into the authors other books.

What a zany cast of characters! I have never read Ned Beauman, and think I should have perhaps started with something shorter and simpler. That being said, it was a fun cerebral exercise to hack through his glorious reveling in words to keep to the trail of the story. The premise is fantastic, and I found myself getting caught up in the quirky personalities of the many characters. Whenever I stopped for a breather, it took a few pages to settle back in to the flow of it. I would compare him to Joyce, Pynchon, even Douglas Adams and Robert Shea. Not a beach book by any means, but if you want to exercise your mental muscles and work for the elaborate humor you'll uncover, this one is for you.

 


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