Voyage To The End of the Room by Tibor Fischer - review by Sam Leith

Sam Leith

The Agoraphobe Within

Voyage To The End of the Room


Chatoo & Windus 251pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

'TIBOR FISCHER' ACCORDING to a quote on the cover of his latest book, 'is a pyrotechnic craftsman.' Does he make fireworks? No, he doesn't. He makes novels - morose, high-handed, glancingly philosophical comic novels. I wouldn't let him anywhere near a firework, particularly not with children around, but he can be trusted with a novel.

Fischer's last book - a collection of short stories; he can be trusted with those, too - was called Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid. That captures the tone. Fischer's voice is infuriatingly arrogant. You, the reader, have a desire to hit him in the face with a bat. The irritating thing is that Fischer is, on average, between 80 and 90 per cent as good as he seems to think he is; and that's very good indeed.

He seldom if ever writes jokes: what makes him funny is his tone of voice, which - ventriloquised though it may be - almost always emerges blackly baleful. He simply allows himself to be angry on the page, and it is the range and ferocity of his rage that make his books exhilarating. His absurdities are venomous rather than whimsical.

Few writers address with such consistent application the feeling, sometimes

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