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Voyage to the End of the Room [Paperback]

Tibor Fischer
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Sep 2003
Oceane (conceived on a cross-Channel ferry) doesn't get out much. But then there's a lot you can do in your room. Voyage to the End of the Room is Tibor Fischer on top form - funny, provocative, foul-mouthed, ingenious, thoughtful, touching and completely original. Narrated by a woman who is equally funny, provocative, etc, on the surface it's a novel about a failed dancer turned computer-graphics designer who's been around the block but these days doesn't leave her house. At heart, though, it's a meditation on how and whether you can ever know other people, what is evil, what is reality, what is humanity - and can you fake them? Or is there a litmus test for the real thing? Reality constantly bumps up against virtual reality, as the novel pans around the globe from Brixton to the holiday island of Chuuk by way of Barcelona, the Balkans and the Humber Estuary, introducing a fantastical cast of irresistible characters and their stories - from sad whores and pseudo-travel agents in Lambeth to perfectly formed sexworkers and 'wetwork' specialists in the Club Babylon, a Spanish tower of Babel where our heroine used to work and bizarre deaths kept occurring; and from a scrupulously devious debt collector to mercenaries and other hard men in former Yugoslavia. There's a brilliant twist that jolts the whole novel into perspective, when Oceane starts getting letters from a friend who's been dead for 15 years, and is drawn into a mystery whose answer might, or might not, be found as far away as Micronesia. Voyage to the End of the Room should come with a health warning ('This book could seriously mess with your mind') - and it may very well be addictive.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First Printing edition (4 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701173335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701173333
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,804,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Side-splittingly funny...Conrad with jokes.', SUNDAY TIMES .'A delicate serio-comic treasure.', Salman Rushdie

Book Description

'Dazzlingly articulate... Funny, insightful, thought-provoking...wickedly entertaining' Sunday Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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THIS IS how I became rich: I was at home at four-thirty on a Friday afternoon. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
First things first: not much actually happens in Voyage to the End of the Room. In fact the title suggests just that. It is, succinctly, a great novel for writers who aren't afraid to read something a little different. Once again this novel showcases Fischer's deft hand at writing witty, catching prose which is so ultimately his domain. No one else could possibly have been successful in a novel like this, and none could possibly have made it work either.

However Fischer does seem to get rather bogged down in the flashback to Oceane's experiences working in a sex-club in Barcelona for whatever reasons. I was rather more eager to get onto her tracking Dudley's globtrotting search to uncover whether her ex is actually alive, and if not, why she's receiving letters, the original reason I bought the novel. But then, this is a Tibor Fischer novel, and the whole novel works, but only because of Fischer's ability with his use of language.

Voyage to the End of the Room, like it's protagonist, is odd, but entirely charming. If you hadn't fallen in love with Fischer before, this might just ease you into his style. It's light entertainment which proves to be a little thought-provoking, if only he had stayed a little bit more interested on finding Ocean's ex, rather than her past.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Humane, wittily written digression 19 Dec 2003
Voyage To The End Of The Room succeeds as a result of Tibor Fischer's incredibly creative use of language. On most pages there will be a phrase or sentence which has enough originality to suggest it couldn't have been written by anyone else. The use of language suggests a real playfulness and wit, an approach to words from some of their less frequented etymologies and shades of meaning. And this is done without the inventiveness being irritating. It suits the narrator and offered a griphandle on her identity and character.
The lack of much by way of a plot is completely unimportant. Rather than the novel being as incoherent or unstructured as that suggests, "Voyage" does have a story to tell and its told through a mosaic of individual histories set in a few particular places. Those are London, the Spanish sex club (which could have been anywhere), Yugoslavia and Chuuk. For a novel whose central character is an agoraphobic ex-dancer the novel's broad footprint is impressive and is another of the book's many jokes.
There is a conservative, misanthropic undercurrent to this novel but somehow despite this it does have a human message (if you like this kind of thing).
Finally, yes, congratulations to the art director for a very eye-hooking front cover. Too often this kind of pretty photography is cheesy bait on a mousetrap novel. In this instance the choice of photo was a good lure into a cleverly written take on the straggling mess of a certain approach to living.
This book probably won't change your life but it is miles better than four evenings watching television.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superficial and aimless 14 Dec 2003
By A Customer
"Voyage to the end of the Room" was, as others have noted below, largely a collection of invented anecdotes that have no cohesion or unifying theme. More importantly, they are not amusing, interesting or plausible anecdotes. It takes more than this to make a novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pretty lengthy 251-page book 11 Jun 2006
By h.j.
I thought this was the type of book you pick up only because you needed another one to complete a "3 for 2" deal. It looked innocent enough, and I expected that it would require minimal effort, but forty pages in I began struggling to keep believing it was a mindless read. Fischer's style forces you to either think about what he's saying or make an attempt to ignore it. I found that it's best to stop and think for a bit. The numerous page breaks offer chances for injections of thought into the work, both by the main character Oceane and by the reader. Although I enjoyed most of these moments of reflection, I also found that they could interrupt the story too much. The slowness can become a little dull when Oceane thinks about nothing for three-pages, the plot already lost in the hundred-page tangent in Barcelona. At that point all I wanted to do was get back into the story. Unfortunately much of the novel has nothing to do with the plot.

The humour created by the combination of non sequiturs and red herrings keeps the prose lively.

There basically is no plot, but as I read further into the book I found that just about everything is like the front cover: a cow about to land in a swimming pool while someone is peacefully lying in the sun. While the author shows a great deal of wit in his focus on the unpleasantness of life and other people, he also takes a more serious approach in making the reader stop to think about the ideas involved in the work. Parts of the novel show an undeniably more hopeful side, turning the main points away from a simple bashing of modern life.

I think the main thing lacking in this novel is the plot, but with his amusing style Fischer kept me interesting to the end.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Trivial, Aimless and Pointless 2 Dec 2003
By A Customer
Occasionally entertaining, but really too aimless and frivolous to amount to much more than a series of disconnected - and generally too ridiculous - anecdotes. As you read, you wonder where it is all going; and the answer is ultimately nowhere. This book has an air of having been tossed off (that term used advisedly) to meet a contractual commitment. Fischer should really grasp the concept that to be genuinely funny, humour must be close to the truth. Creating ridiculous stories is easy; making them believable and unifying them into a coherent story is hard, and that is why great writers get paid the big (okay, the small) bucks.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Most readers who put down a newspaper certainly feel qualified to rule...
Tibor Fischer is an acquired taste and seems to divide reviewers equally along the lines of: `empty, meaningless, gabble', and `flashing witty prose'. Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2011 by Eileen Shaw
3.0 out of 5 stars Voyage to the end of the room - but not much further
I found it hard to know exactly what I thought of this book. I liked the set up a lot, we learn about a woman who never leaves her flat and has clearly had an intriguing life. Read more
Published on 28 Jan 2009 by starski
5.0 out of 5 stars baffled by slating reviews
I was surprised to find such a brutal consensus on what I consider one of my all-time favourites.

This was my first Tibor Fischer, and I've never looked back. Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2008 by person
2.0 out of 5 stars compared to his usual standards, a duffer
Fischer is usually a staggeringly inventive writer (see Thought Gang, Under the Frog, Collector Collector) so it comes as a bit of a surprise when this one is so mediocre. Read more
Published on 20 May 2005 by Jon Swan
3.0 out of 5 stars Voyage to the end of the book
I'm not sure why I bought the book, I'm not sure what I liked about it, I'm not sure what it was about. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Voyage to the end of boredom
I bought this book as it apparently was of the same style as Platform. Unfortunately it has been a very disappointing read. Read more
Published on 16 July 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Come to my Bookcase
I bought this book because "people who ordered x, also ordered Voyage to the End of the Room". It was a whim. Thanks for the suggestion. I loved it. Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really very good
Tibor Fischer has written a couple of other amusing, intermittently clever novels (The Thought Gang, Under the Frog). Read more
Published on 16 Dec 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Voyage back to the bookshop
Like another reviewer, I bought this book because I saw it in FHM magazine and liked the cover. The cover remains my favourite part of the book. Read more
Published on 10 Dec 2003 by "huckfin"
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