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The Collector Collector: A Novel Paperback – July 15, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Paperback, July 15, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Okay, folks, are you ready for a talking bowl? In The Collector Collector author Tibor Fischer has chosen to tell his story from the perspective of an erudite piece of pottery. No mere chachka from Pottery Barn, Fischer's narrator is several hundred years old, has a very long memory, and an astounding command of 5,000 languages. What's more, this bowl has witnessed more human depravity than the Marquis de Sade ever dreamed of: "Things are done in front of me that wouldn't be done in front of pets," it points out. Yet this inanimate object keeps its secrets--until it falls into the hands of Rosa, a London art appraiser with the ability to read the memories of objects and a history that shocks even the usually unflappable urn.

Rosa's sad-sack love life, a kidnapped advice columnist imprisoned in a well, and a kleptomaniac houseguest are just a few of the curve balls Fischer throws into this ribald tale of sex, murder, and frozen iguanas. The Collector Collector will certainly appeal to readers who revel in bad puns, bawdy stories, and wild flights of improbable fancy. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The narrator of this wacky fantasy is a sentient (and garrulous) antique bowl of ancient lineage that has seen virtually everything. Booker Prize nominee Fischer follows The Thought Gang (LJ 5/1/95) and Under the Frog (Free Pr., 1995) with a bawdy romp suitable for readers who are particularly willing to suspend disbelief. Our unusual hero has developed some interesting talents involving shape-shifting, mind reading, and image projection. The bowl is intimately involved in the problems of Rosa, a talented but lovelorn London art appraiser, which include the criminal and sexual goings-on of Nikki, Rosa's uninvited guest. Throughout, the author skillfully stitches farce, social satire, slapstick, and even a bit of romance into a crazy quilt of literary entertainment. Buy where sophisticated whimsy is appreciated.?Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, Va.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (July 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805057862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805057867
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,868,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Fischer's book "The Thought Gang". A lot, actually. Unfortunately, for its first half, "The Collector Collector" did not live up to that book's standards. It lacked its narrative thrust and rollicking sense of humour. Hindsight tells me that I just wasn't getting Fischer's intent. I now see that he wrote a demented, perverted, and hyper-articulate version of "Bridget Jones' Diary", where the female protagonists are as likely to maim and murder their sexual conquests, as fall in love with them. Also, there's a professional matchmaker trapped down a well by a dissatisfied customer, and many frozen iguanas. This is all filtered through the magic-realist perspective of the main character, a 5,000-year-old bowl. Who can read minds. And change shapes. If none of this makes sense to you, I take full blame, for Fischer manages to hold it all together perfectly.
On the surface, there's much here to giggle at, and think about. But underneath all that, there's also a lot of loneliness in the book. People are constantly running from or pushing away romantic partners, for inexplicable reasons. Rosa, in whose London flat much of the action takes place, is desperate for every man she meets to fall in love with her. Contrast this with Nikki, a kleptomaniac/prostitute/houseguest, who doesn't even know what kind of happiness she wants. And then we have our narrator, the bowl, who appears to have witnessed the entirety of human history, and has an endless catalogue of human characteristics stored away, but can't speak with those around him (her?).
There's really not much story here to hang your hat on. The book is a series of quick scenes, tableaus, culled from Rosa and Nikki's everyday life interspersed with stories from the bowl's memory.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading "Under the Frog," this is the sort of successor that I expected from Tibor Fischer. Where "The Thought Gang" stroked toward Sterne's end of the pool, losing itself (I believe) in an excess of excess, "The Collector Collector" is Rabelaisian through and through. Panurge has become a bowl with a real animus for Gorgon crockery, and his companion (however briefly) is Rosa, not on a journey to Lanternland, but on a quest for just one decent fellow to share her life with (an interesting twist on Rabelais' tale, where it is Panurge who seeks advice on marriage).
There were times I laughed so hard (the Mad Poets collection) that I was incapacitated for many minutes afterward, and there were other times (Rosa alone in her hotel room in Australia, too depressed to do anything but breathe) that I was taken once again at how adept Mr. Fischer is at juxtaposing robust, often black humor with scenes of such unaffected poignancy.
An exquisite book.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Collector Collector" is a veritable, dark comic medley about life, love, success, failure, etc... Fischer, like Tom Robbins (and a semi-obscure writer named J. Joyce) before him, uses unbridled structural imagination and hybridization as the central vehicles to express his protagonist's vaguely normal existence in a sea of eccentricity. This book deserves considerable attention, if nothing else, for the author's choice of narrator; the wise and discerning urn. For all it's whimsical satire, this novel presents deep sobering insight into contemporary society.
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Format: Paperback
"I've had a planetful," begins the narrator of this comical novel, which is no understatement for an ancient ceramic bowl which knows some 5000 languages and which has seen the whole of human history happen past. This is a "bowl with soul" that knows it all, from the ubiquity of frozen iguanas to the secret symbolism of earrings, from the two-hundred and eighty-four types of buttocks to the ninety-two types of surprise to the ten unceasing conversations.

Leave it to the off-kilter imagination of Tibor Fischer to make a piece of curmudgeonly pottery the hero of his 3rd book. And, if you think about it, you can forget about the proverbial fly-on-the-wall: sentient crockery *would* make the ultimate unseen observer. Rarely do people look around & wonder if the earthenware is listening in.

But Mr. Fischer isn't content to let the idea of an (ostensibly) inanimate narrator sink in before he starts throwing the reader curve-after-screwball in! ! his inimitably rarefied-but-no-less-pungent style. Enter Rosa, a lovelorn art-appraiser with the ability to "divine" the history of objects. Enter Nikki, a nymphomaniacal kleptomaniac who aspires to circus stardom. Enter Lump, less an ex-lover of Nikki's than a protective Golem, more undead than living. Enter a kidnapping, some thefts, and not a few couplings.

Now read on as these and a host of other colorful denizens & complications (both past & present) move through what is essentially a pot's-eye view of humanity's endless struggles with the most basic of dilemmas, illustrated with hilarious asides & boiled down to one final question: Who finds true love?

Give The Collector Collector a gander. In it, you'll find true entertainment.
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