Wednesday 22 July 2009

Tibor Fischer is clearly one of those virtuoso writers the UK produces every so often, like Martin Amis or Will Self, or at least that's the mode in which he writes his third novel, THE COLLECTOR COLLECTOR. The premise is fantastic, and brilliant, really - an ancient sentient pot that has been through the hands of all sorts of people over the milennia is the narrator. So, the mainline story - of the psychic antique assessor, Rosa, her troublesome houseguest, the corrupt Nikki, a freebooting sexual adventurer whose past keeps trying to catch up with her (a sort of nod to Amis' Nicola Six? Could be...) and her quest for True Love - is interspersed with tales from the pot's past. These are a collection of unfailingly fascinating, inventive fables - I'd have been best pleased had Fischer minimised the framing narrative and simply given us Tales Of A Pot, like Calvino's Invisible Cities. However, the Rosa narrative is told with the same verbal brio as the pot's potted fables, so everything's readable, even if the endless relationship-talk between Rosa, Nikki and occasionally Rosa's pal Lettuce occasionally reads like a Candace Bushnell outtake. After indulging in some cynical posturing along the way (the pot has never seen good vs. evil in its extensive knowledge of and cataloguing of human experience, but it has seen much of evil vs. evil, or evil vs. evil vs. evil and so on), there's a sudden burst of happy coincidence that leaves Rosa in the arms of her dream guy, an ending about which I can only comment that, well, the book had to end at some point, and an upper is as good as a downer, I guess. The best parts of the book are the potted tales, of course, with the present-day narrative working as a sort of Amis-lite pastiche, as edible as the real thing if not quite as nutritious.


Space Bar said...

you think amis' fiction is nutritious? i gave up on him, frankly, a good while ago. i liked his non-fiction as long as it was literary - the war against cliche has to be the best thing he's written, and i liked experience a fair amount - but now that he's on his clash of civilisations screed i find him pretty unbearable.

and don't you, in general, find the white brit male writing pretty anemic?

(good to see you back. july's been traumatic all around, huh?)

JP said...

Amis circa Money, Success, London Fields and especially Time's Arrow was brilliant. Arch, witty, brilliant, sometimes even profound. Since then...not so much.

Do you mean all brit white male writing ever, which would tend to include a lot of non-insipid stuff from Swift to Amis and Self, or the stuff out right now? I don't follow contemporary fiction with an eagle eye, so I can't say much about it.

It's good to be back too.

Space Bar said...

no, no, i meant contemporary fiction. :D

i used to love early amis and mcewan. lately they've been come the stuffed shirts they used to hate.

JP said...

True. I try not to think too much about what Amis has become lately.