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Jon Swan (Tokyo)

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Voyage To The End Of The Room
Voyage To The End Of The Room
by Tibor Fischer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.52

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars compared to his usual standards, a duffer, 20 May 2005
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. We basically spend much of the novel in the increasingly tedious 'Barcelona' section rather than following Audley's character as he is moved around the world by the narrator on the quest to find her ex - and supposedly dead - boyfriend. It seems like the author had this idea to begin with - and reading the dust jacket we are led to believe it - then got bogged down in Barcelona, then when he came to writing the rest of the novel proper got quickly bored, wrapped it up and sent it to his publisher who printed it without question. It's not a howler by any means, but for someone who is usually so far out in front of the rest this is not up to much.

Man and Wife
Man and Wife
by Tony Parsons
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars utter rubbish, I kid you not, 1 April 2005
This review is from: Man and Wife (Paperback)
Like most others who have reviewed here I also enjoyed Man and Boy, which was a breath of fresh air and nice easy reading. Then I picked up the alarmingly similar One for my Baby, which had so many plot points that mirrored Man and Boy and showed up Parsons as a man bereft of new ideas. Man and Wife was the real low point though. It is awful, simplistic writing and a story that holds no thrills and no insights into modern life. I felt outraged that a/ I'd spent money on it, and b/ that the publisher hadn't handed it back to him saying, this really is not good enough. Like the similarly ghastly How to be Good by that hyped media darling Nick Hornby, there has to be better stuff out there than this. It was an insult to my intelligence.

Rabbit at Rest
Rabbit at Rest
by John Updike
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.75

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a master at work, 1 April 2005
This review is from: Rabbit at Rest (Paperback)
The first two Rabbit books didn't live up to the hype, for me, the first being awkward and a little dull, whereas the second, Rabbit Redux, was a bit implausible. The third got better with Updike's finely textured prose making the most banal of events seem worth reading about. This one, Rabbit at Rest, is just an awesome 500 page display of writing, that touches on mortality, lust and disgust, faded dreams, giving up. Updike has been funnier (in the Bech books, also massively recommended) but it takes someone special to make us so fascinated by such an ordinary everyman who messes up so easily, just like us. It was worth reading the early ones to get to this.

Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

21 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great, with reservations, 4 Mar 2005
This review is from: Cloud Atlas (Paperback)
Having read his other two books I was at first delighted with this one, but now that I've finished I have serious reservations about the middle part; that is the two Sonmi-451 stories which really don't grip you at all, and the truly awful middle section (or 'end' if you like) Sloosha's crossing, which for this book lover was unreadable - I tried 3 times but failed to be enthralled by what seemed like a naff homage to William Faulkner. And if anyone has tried to read the dreaded tedium that is As I Lay Dying then they'll know what I mean. Thus I gave up on part of a book for just about the only time in my life.
This is sad as the bits on Ewing, the letters from Zedelghem, Luisa Rey and Timothy Cavendish stories are really excellent. He is an amazing writer of remarkable talents who quite clearly does an awful lot of research, but with the middle stretching to 165 pages of my well overweight Random House 510 page copy it is not the masterpiece it could've been.
The idea of people being connected, often in ways unknown to them, he also used to great effect in Ghostwritten so I am wondering whether he has exhausted this idea. number9dream, his other book is a more straightforward novel and somehow ends up being more rewarding.

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