Spoonbenders is out now from Alfred A. Knopf.
Reviews, interviews, TV stuff, and more below!
An NPR Best Book for 2017
Amazon Editors’ Pick Top 20 Book for 2017
Audible.com Editors’ Pick for 2017
(narrated by Audible.com’s narrator of the year, Ari Fliakos)
Northern California Book Awards short-list
“Gregory writes with humor and charm, offering up a rollicking and quick-paced plot tailor-made for summer, but what makes the novel magical is his exploration of what it means to harbor these gifts…”
–Manuel Gonzales, New York Times.
“While the novel revels in elements that entertain—criminal capers, magic, nostalgia for the internet chat rooms and computer paraphernalia of the 1990s—it never shies away from the real emotion of digging up the lies and illusions that sink into every family history. Readers will emerge from the fray sure they know each Telemachus down to the smudges on their hearts.”
—Kirkus, Starred Review
More reviews below!
Where to buy
I always suggest your local independent book seller. But if you want to find it online, here ya go:
Spoonbenders excerpt on Unbound Worlds.
The Other Stories podcast I start by reading aloud from the book (which works better on a podcast than reading silently), then we move on to an interview.
What it’s about
“Teddy Telemachus, a charming conman with a gift for sleight of hand, tricks his way into a classified government study about ESP, where he meets the lovely Maureen McKinnon. 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 family’s not so amazing. Irene’s 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 Buddy has withdrawn completely into himself and has inexplicably begun digging a hole in the back yard. Was this the life they were meant to have? Why is the CIA suddenly interested in them again? And, most importantly, what will become of the new generation? Irene’s son Matty has just had his first out-of-body experience, and 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 made him a master storyteller, Daryl Gregory delivers a stunning, laugh-out-loud novel about a dysfunctional family of gifted dreamers and the invisible forces that bind us all.”
New York Times Book Review and Kirkus Reviews at top of page.
“Spoonbenders is at its best where family dynamics are concerned: the perspectives of Irene, Frankie and Buddy at different ages are deeply moving, and Irene and Teddy’s scenes together were consistently the most faceted, complex and affecting.”
—Amal El-Mohtar, NPR Books Full Review
“Spoonbenders is an utterly charming and effortlessly witty tale of a disjointed working class family in Chicago…This is a book that constantly surprises and blindsides you.”
—Dave Golder, SFX Magazine
“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.”
—Eric Brown, The Guardian. Full Review
“Every person in the book practically jumps off the page; the dialogue is often hilarious, and always pertinent and revelatory; and the amount of action is intense, including an occult heist à la Richard Kadrey’s latest thrillers…. In short, this book features heart, wit, weirdness, and laughs in equal measure, proving Daryl Gregory is a wild talent on his own merits.”
—Paul Di Filippo, Asimov’s Magazine. Full Review
“Family has been a recurring concern in Gregory’s fiction since the beginning of his career, but with Spoonbenders, he explores the dynamics of a messed-up family with greater complexity, affection, and humor than ever before. It may be the least bizarre of his novels in terms of fantasy invention, but it’s also the most deeply humane, and easily the funniest. . . . The manner in which Gregory begins to draw all the narrative threads together. . . is nothing short of brilliant.”
—Gary K. Wolfe, Locus Magazine. Full Review.
“Through all the magic and the mob chases, Spoonbenders zeroes in on family bonds and love and deftly weaves quirk with real emotion.”
—Sarah Cutaia, Chicago Review of Books Full Review
“Mr. Gregory’s characters are simply magical — in terms of both their abilities and their deeply recognizable humanity. …a rollicking, thoroughly satisfying story that’s perfect for summertime reading,”
—Wendy Wright, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Full Review
“Spoonbenders is a convincing and entertaining look at a complicated extended family, with a Stranger Things vibe that captures the feel of the time and place exceptionally well. There is something for everyone here, a story that crosses generations of experience, pop cultures, and genres—a riveting tale with a ton of heart, masterfully told.”
—Christie Yant, Lightspeed Magazine. Full Review
“This is a superbly entertaining novel. It has a rich humour leavened with a sense of the ridiculous. It is well-written, beautifully constructed, competently narrated and professionally edited. The entire presentation is exceptional.”
—Nigel Robert Wilson, The British Fantasy Society. Full Review
“Extremely funny, intelligent, compassionate, and touching; that’s Daryl Gregory’s Spoonbenders in a nutshell. Believe you me: This is the most fun you’ll have reading this summer!”
—Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist. Full Review.
“There’s something for everyone: speculative fiction, crime fiction, family sagas, coming of age – it’s all here. Even better, it all WORKS… The quirky, frustrating and ultimately endearing family at its center is weird and bold and unfailingly compelling. In Daryl Gregory’s hands, the Telemachus family truly is amazing. And so is “Spoonbenders.”
—The Mainline Edge Full Review
“Gregory’s characters are brightly drawn, and he neatly captures the world of the early internet. But the real fun is in seeing how his intricately constructed puzzle comes together in the end.”
—Todd VanDerWerff, Vox, “9 pieces of can’t-miss pop culture to catch up on this weekend”
“I loved reading about this family. Every character is flawed, and every one is worthy of empathy. The writing is so smooth, and so compelling, it reads like a much shorter novel than it is… It’s a wonderful story about a weird family—but no weirder, really, than any other—and the love that binds them together, against all odds.”
—Ardi Alspach, B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. Full Review
“These are eccentric people with eccentric lives, but the level of emotional detail at work is astounding, and Gregory’s magic touch makes even their strangest moments relatable… The premise will hook you, the plot will entice you, and then the Telemachuses themselves will make you fall in love… an intensely endearing read.”
—Matthew Johnson, BookPage. Full Review
“…this story doesn’t strike a wrong note, or descend into cheese. Gregory has written a story about a family in freefall, one that manages to not only land on its feet, but to find those feet clad in elegant dancing shoes, ready to deliver a spin and final flourish as a prelude to a well-deserved fictional bow.”
—Alyx Dellamonica, Tor.com Full Review
“Anyone and everyone should make room for Spoonbenders in their lives, it’s simply magical.”
—Antony Jones, SFBook Reviews. Full Review
“Spoonbenders is a highly entertaining novel about a great, eccentric family. You will love this book for the psychic shenanigans, and your non-fantasy-reading friends and family members will love it for this uniquely American family.”
—Marion Deeds, Fantasy Literature. Full Review.
“There is a madcap charm to these characters… They are dreamers and bumblers, con artists and magicians, and their superpowers are not always fully functioning, but Gregory works his own magic, turning his motley crew into an engrossing family drama.”
—”5 Hot Books” on National Book Review. Full Review
The book features “the finely-laid plans and deceptive artistry of a master illusionist, and the wondrous, fantastic abilities of people with special powers. It also had warm writing, sympathetic characters and a compelling story wrapped up in a wonderful family portrait.” Full review.
—Joe Hadsall, features editor, Joplin Globe.
“A big, bold and hysterically funny multi-generational family drama, with psychics and con men, and plenty of unexpected heart.”
—Books, Bones, and Buffy. Full Review
- Amazon Editor’s Pick For Summer
- July IndieNext List
- Top Pick for June Canadian Librarians “Loan Stars”
- “8 Summer Books to Keep You Laughing” Kirkus.
- Top Picks for Summer Reading, King 5 News, Seattle.
Comments from Colleagues
“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
“Being Different In Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory” with Sean Speakman on Unbound Worlds.
Book Talk Podcast Episode 42 with Cyd Oppenheimer on Book Talk. We dig into “genre” and “mainstream” and “quotes.”
“Daryl Gregory talks SPOONBENDERS, the ‘Mom test’, and gives away FIVE books!” by Marion Deeds on Fantasy Literature.
“Start at the End of the Story (and More with Daryl Gregory)” by Kristin Fritz on Signature.
“Weird things fuel ‘Spoonbenders’ author Daryl Gregory’s work” by By Joe Hadsall at the Joplin Globe.
The Other Stories podcast Interview and a short reading from the book.
Spoonbenders will be published around the world by these fine companies. Most publishing dates are not set–there’s translation work to do–but the translation into English was done by me, so riverrun will be publishing the book in the UK this summer, probably July.
UK: riverrrun / Quercus. Coming summer 2017
Italy: Edizioni Frassinelli
Poland: Czarna Owca
Brazil: Editora Rocco
China: China CITIC
Germany: Eichborn Verlag
Taiwan and Hong Kong: China Times
Hungary: Libri Kiadó
France: JC Lattès
Catalan: Edicions La Campana
Spain: Blackie Books
…and more are in the works!
Spoonbenders has been optioned by Paramount TV, and will be executive produced by Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar, Steve Golin (who shared an Oscar for Spotlight), and Bard Dorros. I’ll also be an executive producer, and as soon as I figure out what that entails I’ll let you know. My media agent, Marty Shapiro, orchestrated that auction. He rocks.
Related articles about Spoonbenders and related things
“5 Books About Psi Powers” by Daryl Gregory on Tor.com
“It Costs $55 to Learn How to Bend a Spoon with Your Mind” by Daryl Gregory on LitHub
“What They’re Reading: Daryl Gregory” on BookPage
“Castaways”–about the character I’d happily “cast out to sea, leave on the beach or drown in a rock pool.”on Foyles
The announced print run is 75K copies. So you should be able to find it.
Knopf editor Tim O’Connell bought the book in an auction orchestrated by my samurai agent, Seth Fishman.