The Amazing Telemachus Family was once poised to thrill the world with its assortment of psychic skills. Until the day they were shamed and debunked very publicly and everything went to hell for them too quickly. And then the martriarch of the family dies, leaving her husband, Teddy, to care for a collection of frustrated exceptionals. Teddy, the con man. Teddy, the one among them who is really not psychic. Following the family from the early days of Teddy and Maureen meeting at the birth of a government program looking for psychics to combat the threat of Soviet psychics, up to a present which may or may not involve the apocalypse, Daryl Gregory deftly turns everything everyone "knows" about psychics and cons and secret government programs on its multifaceted head(s) and tells the story of a family coping with lost love, fame, innocence, the mob, old age, death, and the true nature of the universe. By turns laugh-out-loud funny, deeply affecting, and nail-bitingly tense, Spoonbenders is exactly not what you expect.
“The Amazing Telemachus Family is unlike any other. Patriarch Teddy is a con man whose adult children possess remarkable psychic gifts (telekinesis, lie detection, and clairvoyance), but the loss of their mother leaves the entire family reeling. Though the Telemachus crew's misadventures attract the attention of everyone from the CIA to a scary local crime boss, Teddy and his children are more threatened by their own emotional damage and sketchy past than anything else. Gregory's characters are sharply drawn and lovable, and he tells their story in a way that's wise, warm, and entertaining throughout. With a strong sense of humor and an amazing climax, this is the kind of novel that's an absolute blast to read.”
— Erika VanDam, RoscoeBooks, Chicago, IL
Winter 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Spoonbenders is so much more than the hilarious story of a family with telekinetic powers; it’s a testimony to the power our families have in creating chaos in our lives and—with a little luck—also saving our hides. Each Telemachus family member has a special ability, from lie-detecting to future sight to astral projection, which serves as more of a burden than a gift to them, attracting mobsters, government agents, and other psychics into the fray as they maneuver their way into, and out of, a mess of trouble. I love how the plot builds and builds into a torrential sequence of events at the end, collapsing in on them all like a giant wave of destiny. I can’t recommend this enough!”
— Aubrey Winkler, Powell's Books, Portland, OR
A NEBULA AWARD FINALIST ONE OF NPR'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"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.
About the Author
DARYL GREGORY is the author of Afterparty, The Devil's Alphabet, and other novels for adults and young readers. His novella We Are All Completely Fine won the World Fantasy Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. He lives in Oakland, California.
“What Daryl Gregory accomplishes in his seventh novel is both magic and magic trick…. Gregory writes with humor and charm, offering up a rollicking and quick-paced plot tailor-made for summer.” —Manuel Gonzales, The New York Times Book Review
“Daryl Gregory’s Spoonbenders takes a madcap look at the US in the latter half of the 20th century through the dysfunctional but endearing Telemachus family.... What follows is a hilarious, freewheeling caper involving Chicago gangsters and government secret agents, culminating in a satisfyingly bittersweet denouement.” —The Guardian
“With a wicked sense of humor, memorable characters, and a hefty dose of supernatural magic, Spoonbenders gallops.... Gregory’s characters are simply magical — in terms of both their abilities and their deeply recognizable humanity.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Gregory has a wry, clear, powerful voice, and his characters leap off the page. . . . This novel’s resolution left me with a sense of genuine, unalloyed emotional uplift.” —Alyx Dellamonica, Tor.com “Superbly engaging, balancing delightful wackiness with genuine tenderness throughout in a way reminiscent of Michael Chabon or Jonathan Lethem.” —NPR.org
“The action is never-ending, it’s fun, and the engaging plot is supported by a clever structure. I stayed up late into the night reading chapter after chapter, pulled in by yet another fantastic line that either made me laugh or gasp in surprise.” —Sara Cutaia, The Chicago Review of Books “Gregory seamlessly switches between different points of view, creating vivid voices for each Telemachus family member.” —Publishers Weekly “A hilarious portrayal of family, schemes and a few superpowers thrown in along the way. . . . The level of emotional detail at work is astounding, and Gregory’s magic touch makes even their strangest moments relatable. These characters’ gifts merge with a brisk pace and a subtle, often bittersweet sense of comedy to make Spoonbenders an intensely endearing read. The premise will hook you, the plot will entice you, and then the Telemachuses themselves will make you fall in love.” —BookPage
“Masterful. . . . gracefully balances the outrageous melodrama of Chicago mobsters and shadowy government agencies with the ordinary mysteries of family dynamics. . . . Readers will emerge from the fray sure they know each Telemachus down to the smudges on their hearts. A skillfully written family drama that employs quirk and magic with grace.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
"Gregory makes excellent use of the comic potential of hapless superpowers and sets up some intriguing mysteries, but mostly the novel is a celebration of family love and self-protection." —Chicago Tribune
“This gloriously imaginative novel featuring a family of somewhat reluctant psychics has a nifty trick up its sleeve—as whimsical and eccentric as the Telemachus family is, their hopes and desires perfectly mirror our own. Spoonbenders is hilarious, heartfelt and brimming with humanity.” —Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest “Imagine amazing powers—but do so with uncommon creativity, rigor, and humor. You might, if you're lucky, arrive at the delicious drama of the girl who can smell lies; the all-at-once-ness of the boy who can’t not see the future; the great dilemma of the psychic pressed into service as a spy. Daryl Gregory's novel traces the line where gift balances against curse and by the end, we realize he isn’t only talking about amazing powers after all. Spoonbenders is X-Files meets The Sopranos with a real, roaring heart.” —Robin Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
“Did you spend a childhood convinced that you were *this close* to developing telekinetic powers? Me too! The supernatural may elude us still, but there is real magic in Daryl Gregory’s gleeful story of the Amazing Telemachus Family. Spoonbenders is also about the power of belief and whether we can ever escape our tangled family legacies—and why we might not want to.” —Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World
"Daryl Gregory has written a novel as gripping as it is hilarious. The members of the Telemachus family may have powers beyond our own, but in telling their tale, Gregory reminds us of the bits of ordinary magic that are at the heart of every successful family. You will love this book." —Steven Rowley, national bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus
“A big generational family story of longing, nostalgia and humor. The writing is so deftly charming and yet deeply felt. Spoonbenders is entertaining and moving—a perfect summer read.” —Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
"A joyfully weird book about psychics and con artists, and the marvels that result from the intermarriage of the two." —Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky
“Spoonbenders is brilliant. With the Telemachus clan, Daryl Gregory has created a family that is part J.D. Salinger and part David Foster Wallace. But the most impressive trick in the novel isn’t how they read minds. Gregory’s real gift is how he uses them to show the depths of the human heart.” —Christopher Farnsworth, author of Killfile and Blood Oath