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3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Voyage To The End Of The Room
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on 12 June 2006
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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on 11 June 2006
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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on 19 December 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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on 14 October 2008
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. The book centers around various anectdotes of various believability, but I found them all extremely witty and, though eccentric (which I feel is Fischer's main charm), actually very human. The direction of the book is hard to grasp at first, but that is the nature of the protagonist (and indeed all Fischer's protagonists) and as such makes for an ultimately involving read, very true to life (which after all rarely makes its direction clear from the start).

To sum up: had me in stitches from start to finish, with a surprise dash of profundity towards the end. Excellent novel!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 August 2011
Tibor Fischer is an acquired taste and seems to divide reviewers equally along the lines of: `empty, meaningless, gabble', and `flashing witty prose'. I am in the second category and confess myself shocked by the range of otherwise intelligent people who cannot get a handle on what Fischer is doing. Okay, he stays around the Sex Club scenario rather too long, but there is such a fascinating range of characters created by this oddly 1970s atmosphere - repression and sexual freedom mixed in with a plot about a possible message from beyond the grave. The plot, though, really doesn't matter much. There is nothing even remotely offensive about this book, it is fun, laughter, lightness, from beginning to end. Though who, drops a stuffed cow into the swimming pool from a helicopter is never quite adequately explained.

Oceane, (I found myself pronouncing it O'Shane) is well-off thanks to a house being left to her and her dot.com abilities to provide on-screen characters for gaming fanatics. The Sex Club is from her past, but we go back there because Oceane's ex, Walter, has left a trail of letters stretching across half the world. Also, it's where "pure evil" supposedly resides. Oceane doesn't do travel, as we are soon to find out.

Fischer belongs in the category of writers who are amusing to read, but whose effect is more subtle than memorable or profound. Certainly you read with a smile on your face. However, I found myself rather irritated by the conceit that Oceane gets other people to do all her dirty work while she skulks around in her house. It's as if he lost confidence in the fact that he had created a female protagonist and thought to himself `can't have her jetting around the world solving her own problems, let's have her agoraphobic so some guy has to do the action sequences.' Pointless really, as Audley, her hapless current swain, is no James Bond so he might as well have had Oceane getting into difficulties and making dicey decisions. I loved the writing and the joke scenarios, but thought there was a failure of nerve along the way.
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on 18 February 2015
An agoraphobe who pays to have the world brought to her receives a letter from a person she knew in her younger, wilder days when she wasn’t afraid of leaving the house. The only catch is that the person has been dead ten years. As she sets out to find the man—without ever leaving the house, of course—we get glimpses of her life. Great fun and insightful, Fischer has a keen eye for human eccentricities and psychology.
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on 14 December 2003
"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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on 2 December 2003
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 September 2003
I was a big fan of The Collector Collector and the Thought Gang, but this latest effort is a bit of a disappointment. Its still OK compared to the bulk of the stuff which comes out but not up to the author's previous standards.
First difficulty - the main character is female and the writer is not. This isn't always a problem for male writers writing in the first person. Iain Banks for one can assume female identity convincingly. But these musings are just too blokey, and I was never at any time able to think of the narrator as anything other than a clumsy construct.
And sometimes this novel just seems like a string of mildly fantastical anecdotes loosely hung on a shakey plot. Minor characters are forever having "this mate who" such and such a weird thing happened to. It gets to the stage where you think "God not another one" as they whizz off the page and past your ear and off on their tangent.
If you like Tibor Fischer already then its worth a read but I can't see it winning any new converts.
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on 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.
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