Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Spoonbenders

Daryl Gregory

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.

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"Hilarious, heartfelt and brimming with humanity.” —Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest

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 Buddy has completely withdrawn into himself and inexplicably begun digging a hole in the backyard.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.


Advance Galley Reviews

I was excited to read an advanced copy because of a high recommendation of Daryl Gregory from a friend. I found myself disappointed. It was an effort to move from chapter to chapter. Part of this is definitely Gregory's skill in painting hopelessness so thoroughly. The early chapters are heartbreaking and it was really hard for me to push forward. Changing perspectives from chapter to chapter can be a positive or negative thing for an author. It's definitely necessary in this novel because of the wide-reaching effects of the Mike Douglas incident, but at the same time, it makes it hard to bond with any of the characters. Not my favorite novel this year. Gregory is obviously a great talent, but maybe he was just a little too good at some of his description of lives of quiet desperation. The payoffs just couldn't lift me past the heartbreak.

I wasn't sure about this title - the first few chapters were slow going for me. But after I got into the flow of the storytelling I was hooked. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the central characters - all members of the same family, over three generations - and each explains things along a several-decades long time line. It sounds much more confusing than it is. Amidst the narration, we learn their personalities and abilities, as well as a history of the family. Dad is a bit of a con man / card shark. Mom was a true psychic. Their three children each have unique psychic abilities, as do the grandchildren. Again, sounds confusing, but it's not. The story line meanders and comes together in ways you don't expect. And the ending has a big surprise I certainly didn't see coming!

I didn't even request this one but apparently Penguin knows me better than I know myself because I LOVED IT!! Thank you, Penguin First to Read, for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. This book was so enjoyable and clever, I very much enjoyed it! Spoonbenders follows three generations of the Amazing Telemachus family. What's not to like about a family with various psychic abilities, a run-in with the mob, plus the usual lies, deceit, and crazy family relationships? I loved each of the characters in their own unique and (very) special ways, and I thought the author did a great job of describing and distinguishing each of their abilities. The pacing was wonderful, and it was one of those books where every chapter leaves you needing more. So ultimately, if you're looking for a fun, fast-moving read, make this your next go-to because this one is so worth it!!

I really enjoyed this book. I had no idea where this book was headed when I first started to read it, but soon found that I couldn't put it down. Usually I am not a fan of books that follow more than two or three narratives, but I had no trouble with this book following five family member (and I actually cared about what happened to all of them). Nothing in this story was what in seemed, and found myself constantly trying to guess what happened next, but happy that nothing was predictable. I more than likely wouldn't have tried to read this one if it wasn't offered, but I am so glad that I did!

Complex characters and multiple points of view made this otherwise boring story bearable. I frequently lost interest and had to skip back to pick up details. After needing to force myself to read I gave up halfway through.

This turned out to be a lovely surprise! I really had no idea what I was getting into, but I enjoyed this book immensely. Complex, quirky characters in a strange yet realistic (or is that realistic yet strange?) world. Well written and carefully crafted to weave multiple perspectives into a cohesive whole. Kept my attention from beginning to end.

Bottom line: I loved this book. I didn't expect to. It's not my "usual" fare. I didn't even remember requesting to review it (spooky, right, a novel about alleged "psychics" and it just appears in my review list? :-D) I had something else queued up that I really wanted to read, but I needed to "get this out of the way." And, instead, I found this to be a totally absorbing, quirky, funny, moving, very memorable story that reminded me not just a little of John Irving, maybe crossed a bit with Lisa Lutz. Set in Chicago, we meet the Telemachus family in "present day" 1990s as well as in flashbacks to the "glory" days of their traveling psychic act. Patriarch Teddy can read what is written through envelopes and folds of paper. Daughter Irene knows whether or not you are lying. Son Frankie can move things with his mind. And youngest son, Buddy, can see the future, including where the spinning wheel will stop. Mom, Maureen, could leave her body -- astral projection -- and see anything, anywhere, which helped her to "know" things about members of the audience. They are at the height of their fame in an appearance on the Mike Douglas show when everything goes horribly wrong, and they are denounced as frauds and, not long after, Maureen dies of cancer. Twenty-one years later, we see what their talents have wrought in them. Teddy is old, arthritic and can barely manage simple sleight-of-hand. Irene is bitter about almost everything except her teenage son, Mattie. Frankie has so much yet wants more and more and more. Buddy barely speaks, but works furiously on 'home improvement' projects that have no apparent purpose or end. Their past and future seem inextricably intertwined with those of a mercenary government agent who is dedicated to using psychic power as a weapon, as well as the local Mob. Can they find a happy ending? This is the kind of book that I will recommend to friends but I won't give away my copy, but will keep it in my own library for... later. This is a good one!

I would like to thank First to Read and Penguin books for the ARC of "Spoonbenders" by Daryl Gregory for my honest opinion and review. I appreciate the author's unique idea of combining fantasy and fiction. I found at this time I could only read 200 pages and felt that this book was not a good fit for me. I found that the characters were complex and complicated. At times it was confusing. I will try to attempt to read this book at another time.That being said, I feel that other people could enjoy this book.

I would like to give special thanks to Penguin First to Read for giving Spoonbenders to me to review as an ARC. This was a fantastic book that I wish I didn’t just have for a short period of time to review, but also to own and display on my bookshelf! Admittedly, I almost put this book down around halfway through. There definitely was a lag in the middle of the story where it seemed as though nothing important was really happening, things were getting confusing, and I was spacing out. But I am really glad that I stayed with this book! Everything that happens in Spoonbenders is important, and things that once seemed obscure as the book was developing itself will come together by the end of the story very nicely. But throughout the story, what really kept me interested in what was going on was the characters. You will both absolutely love and totally loathe pretty much all of the characters at some point or another during the story, and, above all, you will become attached to this story just so you can find out what’s going to happen to them! I won’t give away the ending (no, seriously, I actually won’t), but it’s got a lot of plot twists in it right when you think there could be nothing more going on in this story. I don’t think there needs to be a sequel to this book, but I would be happy to read one. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a literary story with some aspects of fantasy; this is perfect for you.

I enjoyed this book. It was a really good story. There are a lot of people in this book, and there are a lot of things going on. There are a lot of different story lines, but it isn't confusing. I enjoyed learning about this family. The father, Teddy, is quite a character. His family is unique. They have powers. His wife, Maureen, is very powerful. They have three children. Although they have powers, they still have regular life problems. It is a very interesting book. I couldn't wait to find out what happens next to their families. Where else can you read about psychic powers and the mob? I don't think anywhere else. It flows very well.

I read the first 190-something pages straight through without skipping perspectives, but after that I started skipping perspectives that didn't interest me. I'm not a fan of multiple perspectives in books, even though I do think it was executed well here. I did genuinely enjoy the first chunk that I read straight through, but then my mood shifted or something and I just lost interest in it. The book is written very well, from what I read, and it's funny and enjoyable, from the first bit I read, so I'm definitely going to give this book another go when my mood shifts again and I gain an interest in it. I would definitely still recommend this book, it's just that the stars are not aligned for me to finish it right now, and that's not the fault of the book.

It was one of the most hilarious books I've read in a while, I had fits of giggles throughout. I wouldn't normally choose this type of book for myself but it was offered and I accepted and boy am I glad I did, it was very entertaining.Teddy the patriarch and his deceased wife Maureen had their hands full with their crazy, gifted youngsters. All in all I liked the book and would definitely be open to reading another like in the future. But I must say the Telemachus family is dysfunctional at best of times. I would also like to apologize for the late post.

It's not my normal book and not sure if I would have read it if not given out to review. It was a slow start and wasn't sure about it at first, however once I got into it, it was a good quick read. Spoonbenders is a funny book about a dysfunctional family with powers. So glad I got the chance to read it.

I was instantly intrigued by the premise. I'm a sucker for any thing related to "sixth sense" clairvoyant and mysticism. Well I was definitely in luck with this book. Because is full all the things I love in a fictional novel. A fast, intriguing, heartwarming read for the the daydreamer in most of us. The author surpassed my expectations and provided more than enough twist and turns with and effortless fluidity that kept me anticipating more. This book allowed me to dive in and forget about whatever mundane task of a grueling work day. Escapism at its best.

This is definitely not my normal read but I have to admit, once I started it, I couldn't put it down! This book is quirky, hilarious, and really makes me adore my own wacky family so much more! This is worthy of high recommendations and hats off praises to the author!

I've been reading a lot of books with rotating narrators recently. The approach runs the risk of tantalizing a readership with a story that they actually care about, only to pull away and plop them in the middle of a story that they couldn't care less about. Spoonbenders walks a thin tightrope with this, although I think the novel manages to keep its balance. I didn't want to care about some of the characters, but the narrator was so sympathetic to each one that I didn't really have a choice in the end. Teddy, the psychic family's non-psychic patriarch, is an undeniable cradle-robber, but his earnest attempts to, well, scam his way into his late wife's heart are just so endearing. Frankie spends the entire book scheming and scheming and (pyramid) scheming his way into fortune, but his sense of betrayal at the hands of his own brother is bitter and understandable. The aspect of "time travel" in this novel was unexpected for me but I loved it. Buddy's narrative thread was my favorite overall, landing in this weird limbo-land between The Time Traveler's Wife and Slaughterhouse-Five. If you need a reason to read this book, Buddy Telemachus is the only one you need. Plus, this is a fun little read. Gregory spins each of his plates masterfully and chooses the perfect moment to bring them all crashing down together.

I was immediately attracted to the title (not going to lie, it totally made me think of that one scene in the Matrix), and the description sounded unique and interesting. Despite all this, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this book, but in the end I am really happy I gave it a chance. Spoonbenders has a little bit of everything in it; family drama, magical abilities, mobsters, espionage, gambling, teenagers coming of age, time travel, and even a bit of romance (I think that’s everything? I feel like I missed something). It’s hard to believe all of that managed to get crammed into a book and still have it make sense, but somehow it all works. It took me a little while to settle into Spoonbenders, and I don’t mean that in a negative way, Daryl Gregory just has a writing style that leads to a natural buildup of the plot and character development. All the little details made the world and events feel that much more real and believable. Spoonbenders follows the life and adventures of the Telemachus family, all of whom are gifted in one way or another. But not gifted in the normal sense. They’re all psychic. Each family member has their own distinct ability, with only a couple exceptions (which become obvious as you read the book). I have to say that I was really surprised by the complexity of this novel; and how well written it was. Everything flowed naturally, and the character’s were interesting, if sometimes aggravating (but isn’t that always the way with family?). Teddy Telemachus was simultaneously my favorite and least favorite character. While he acts as a psychic, he’s actually just a con-man. I cannot even begin to describe just how funny I found that to be. He ends up marrying a true psychic, whom their children inherit abilities from. Teddy’s long term plot was probably the best for its humor value if nothing else. The reason I found his character hard to deal with was sometime he reminded me of Willy Loman, one of my least favorite characters in literary history (I’m not saying Death of a Salesman was bad, merely stating that I dislike the main character). Unlike Willy though, Teddy doesn’t ever seem to give up, and while he may not have been the best dad around (just ask Irene) he did at least do the best he could with what he had (even if nobody else agreed that it was actually the best). There’s a whole litany of supporting characters, being that the Telemachus family isn’t exactly small. There’s Teddy and Maureen (Maureen being deceased for a decent amount of the book, sadly), and then their kids, Irene, Frankie (as well as his wife), and Buddy, and then there’s grandchildren too, but Matty is the only one that the novel really focuses on. The family dynamics on the whole were pretty interesting to watch; who could rely on whom, which one of them was a trouble maker, how they handled getting around the living lie detector (aka Irene) and so on. The plot itself is fairly complex; with each character having their own plot going on simultaneously, and then eventually having them all weave together into one major plot and series of events. It was pretty brilliantly done, though I’ll admit I had to step back and take a couple of days to think about it all before I went and wrote my review. Complex stories do that to me; I love trying to put all the puzzle pieces together after the fact to see if they actually fit like we were told they did. In this case, I’m happy to say that all the pieces fit. It’s refreshing to see, and even more refreshing to read.

Spoonbenders is a must read for summer 2017. If you think your family is dysfunctional - check out the Telemachus family. Superpowers, federal agents, the mob, and an old fashioned cousin crush - it's quirky, wonderfully distasteful at times, heartbreaking at others.. Often backstory can slow down the flow of a novel, however - Gregory's fast-paced smooth writing allow for easy traditions between the past and present. Just buy a copy. You won't regret it.

Sorry, not my type of book. Couldn't get into it at all.

Good book! Took me a little to get into because of how it jumps around but once I did I was pulled in.

This book was a nice surprise, I enjoyed the quirky, crazy mixed up adventures of a psychic family. From the ultimate conman father and genuine remote viewer spy mom, the Telemachus family are shown through the years with their kids and grandkids with special powers. Their unique lifestyle and consequences of using and relying on their gifts takes a toll on the family. Heartbreaking at times and so entertaining with government men and the mafia thrown in.

I never would have picked this book up on my own, and I would have missed a true gen! This book about a dysfunctional family and their love for each other is funny, charming, and sometimes sad. It's a great story and hard to put down.

 


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