Chatto & Windus, £10.99

Voyage to the End of the Room by Tibor Fischer

Sexual magnetism and ostrich-flavour crisps

Whatever effect Tibor Fischer's trashing of Martin Amis has had on its subject, it has provided an awkward context for writing about his own new novel. Fischer's invective on Yellow Dog - not-knowing-where-to-look bad, shoot me if I ever produce anything like this - has raised the stakes. Will editors now settle for milksop phraseology like "disappointing", "mildly tedious" and "has one or two amusing moments"? But that is what Voyage to the End of the Room demands.

The book is narrated mainly by Oceane, a computer graphics designer and former dancer who lives in a flat in London and has, fortuitously, made enough money never to have to leave it. Instead the world comes to her, through her collections of CDs and videos, her web connection, and her travel agent, Garba, who hires foreign chefs and tourists to re-create a typical evening out in, say, Helsinki.

The outside world intrudes into her controlled life, first in the shape of Audley, a debt collector looking for a previous occupant of Oceane's flat; then through a letter from Walter, a former lover whom Oceane believed dead. This prompts a long flashback to a period when Oceane and Walter both performed in a sex club in Barcelona. Audley contributes his own flashback to time spent as an unsuccessful mercenary in former Yugoslavia. On Oceane's behalf, he follows Walter's trail to Micronesia. It all ends on an inconclusive note; Oceane leaves her flat, apparently with the intention of looking after the dispirited Audley.

In his novels Under the Frog and The Collector Collector, a jumpy narrative structure suited Fischer's inventiveness and energy. But here, the outrageous coincidences and bizarre juxtapositions which riddle the plot simply aren't weird enough. The shape-changing, sentient pot that narrated The Collector Collector: now, that was freaky. By comparison, the stripper who can bring down a helicopter with sheer sexual magnetism, the accident-prone debt collector with a brother called Kold Hard Kash, the psychopath who lives on an aircraft carrier and only eats ostrich-flavour crisps... These strike me as implausible without being especially interesting.

The other thing I have enjoyed in Fischer's work is his way with the English language. He approaches it like somebody meeting it for first time, testing and inverting clichés, promiscuously coining new words or giving old ones excitingly fresh contexts. It is surely not irrelevant that, although born in Stockport, he has Hungarian parents.

This time around, though, it all becomes rather monotonous. There is hardly any modulation of tone, the characters all sound the same, and again and again Fischer strives for the gnomic and manages only the banal: "For all of us, the smallest thing can store unimaginable multitudes"; and, in a clinching sentence, "Home can never be a place, only a person."

I suppose I could work up some indignation about all this. How about, "I wouldn't even use this book to wipe my arse if I had dysentery"? Does that get the tone? What about the plain truth: Tibor Fischer has produced an uncharacteristically dull book? You can probably find something better to read.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried