Voyage to the End of the Room

Tibor Fischer

Vintage 2003
A book review by Danny Yee © 2006
Computer graphics designer Oceane leads a comfortable life in her London flat: she's well enough off to own that and the flat downstairs, and she works from home and doesn't have to go out at all. Rather than travelling overseas, she has her travel agent arrange themed dinners with visitors from other countries. So when she receives a letter from an ex who has been dead for ten years, posing a puzzle which requires her to travel to Chuuk, on the other side of the world, she hires failed mercenary turned debt-collector Audley to travel for her, using a video link up.

Voyage to the End of the Room doesn't spend much time on this plot, however, with most of it taken up by digressions or asides of one kind or another. Its middle half is made up of two flashbacks. In one Oceane describes the time she spent working in a live-sex show in Barcelona: since she never manages to get out of the club, this is dominated by her relationships with its assorted denizens and the mysterious deaths that begin to befall them. In the other flashback, Audley describes his stint fighting as a volunteer in Yugoslavia, and the startling number of other occasions on which guns have been pointed at him. And there are shorter asides on everything from London beggars and prostitutes and the abuses of local government (and Lambeth Council in particular) to general ruminations on how to live and how to get on with other people.

This is easy to read, entertaining and even inventive, but if anything it's too easy. Making fun of local government and criticising annoying beggars is pretty safe, as is mixing sex, guns, mystery, and exotic locations. Fischer comes up with some memorable flights of fancy, however, and his more general observations avoid triteness and never grate. Voyage to the End of the Room has enough substance to satisfy.

August 2006

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%T Voyage to the End of the Room
%A Fischer, Tibor
%I Vintage
%D 2003
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0099437732
%P 251pp