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The Thought Gang [Paperback]

Tibor Fischer
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

15 Jan 2009
France. A skint, clapped-out British philosopher meets an incompetent, freshly released, one-armed, armed robber. The Thought Gang is born as the duo blag their way from Montpellier to Toulon for the ultimate bank robbery. Ferociously funny, Fischer combines an extravagant sense of humour with a flair for the grotesque in this heady follow-up to the Booker shortlisted Under the Frog.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (15 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099516926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099516927
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 293,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Hilarious, fast-moving stuff" Independent "Not since Woody Allen has philosophy had such a hilarious application" Guardian "A fast-paced, off-beat thriller... It's a zany novel with depth and a fresh, almost controversial prose style that gives you the creeping impression that you have just hitched a lift with one hell of an imagination" List "Acerbic, dashingly inventive, very funny indeed" -- Christopher Hitchens Mail on Sunday "Fischer has a unique ability to hinge the most unlikely concepts together... charcoaling ideas to gem-hardened, irresistibly funny insights" Time Out

Book Description

A black comedy in the grand tradition of word-drunk intellectuals-en-dementia from the author of Booker-shortlisted Under the Frog.

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First Sentence
The only advice I can offer, should you wake up vertiginously in a strange flat, with a thoroughly installed hangover, without any of your clothing, without any recollection of how you got there, with the police sledgehammering down the door to the accompaniment of excited dogs, while you are surrounded by bales of lavishly-produced magazines featuring children in adult acts, the only advice I can offer is to try be good-humoured and polite. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Middle-aged layabout Eddie Coffin wakes up naked & groggy in an apartment full of child-pornography just as the police break in. If you ever find yourself in similar circumstances, Eddie advises "try to be good-humoured and polite" because "it makes the police fret about having got something wrong."
So begins this hilarious tale of a tenured philosopher at Cambridge who absconds with departmental funds to France, where he meets up with a deranged(?) one-armed robber named Hubert, a psychopath with "a gluttony for erudition." Soon the two of them are on an increasingly improbable crime-spree, rifling bank-vaults & schools of thought with equal aplomb.
As the loot mounts and the police circle ever closer, Eddie & Hubert decide to make one last, climactic heist, to put the capper on their caper career and to put their philosophical conclusions (which include contributions from the Ancient Greeks to Nietzche) to the ultimate practical test.
Tibor Fischer has created a side-splitting narrative that is as full of deep intelligence as it is full of belly-rending guffaws. This is a novel whose pace puts the average potboiler to shame and whose implications stretch the envelope for literary fiction. Eddie & Hubert are characters you will love to hate and vice-versa. If you have an appetite for Felony and Philosophy, then this book is a must-read, a re-read, and a keeper.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Tibor Fischer's excellent meditation upon the indubitable crapness but inherent attractiveness of life instantly joined my top ten novels of all time upon my first reading, and climbs higher up the chart with every revisit.
The quality of writing is impressive, a real joy is taken in playing with words, sending sentences cascading towards sometimes hairy conclusions with the irreverence of a drunken muskateer, to which the plot, when it is evident, plays a sometimes psychotic foil. Do not read this novel in a public place, unfortunately, laughing alone is no longer viewed as socially acceptable.
Somewhere between the laughs though, a depth of emotion and seductive strength of characterisation draw you into this other world, and there are a few one-line asides on the general impossibility of life, that would make any philosopher proud.
All in all then, the novel serves as a hilarious analogy for life as it appears within the novel, hugely imperfect, but strangely beautiful and effective.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A hilarious, and very tongue in cheek, caper following the exploits of an English philosophy professor and a one-legged, streetwise, French, small-time robber.
It has a happy mix of tomfoolery, sex and irreverance for the law, all hanging loosely to a plot of crime and bank-robbery. You will be amazed at their attitudes toward their crimes, and laugh out loud at their treatment of the bungling local constabulary. The pace, and their crimes, build through the pages, culminating with the piece de resistance.
Anyone who likes that acrid whit of Irvine Walsh, or the goonish antics of the Marx Brothers is guaranteed to find this hilarious. Those of a more conservative nature may still find it a chuckle, but may be a little bemused by the characters' antics. Read it and see for yourself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mister Zed 2 Mar 2000
This book is quirky in the extreme, but such good fun that your carried along in the nonsense of it all. It seems at times that Mr Fischer has just had a thought of something he can put into the story and rather than wait for an opening decides to examine that idea there and then.
And somehow he manages to fit a philosophy A to Z (or Zeeif you've been educated through song and a Giant Yellow bird) into the story line without it ever getting boring.
The only reason I'd only award 4 stars is that I felt it was let down a little by the ending. This may sound daft but it just kinda ends....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Knowing, Smug, Irritating and Brilliant! 13 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At around page 130, I had to resist a strong urge to hurl 'The Thought Gang' across the room. At the very least, it was to be sent to the charity shop. Then I found myself stranded, with this book as my only source of entertainment. Which turned out to be a lucky break; as I read more, something clicked, and I found it to be unputdownable.

Apart from the dislikeable nature of the two main characters, the main barrier to my finding a way into 'The Thought Gang', was the author's rarefied use of language. Though the narrator's pretentious, thesaurus swallowing-vocabulary was in character, it upset the flow of the story. The author's insistence of using obscure words (that more often than not started with the letter 'Z'), did little to enhance the tale. To me, it felt like the literary equivalent of yelling 'Look at me! Look at me!' If it wasn't for some astute observation and several laugh-out-loud moments in the opening chapters, I would have lost interest well before page 130.

So where did it all go right? My initial attempts at trying to read 'The Thought Gang' were fragmented, due to lack of time. Once I'd had a chance read a decent sized chunk in one sitting, the esoteric language washed over me, and I was even able to luxuriate in it. Perhaps it was because I finally understood the point Fischer was making - Life sucks, but it's all we've got; moments of joy are rare and unexpected, and that makes them all the sweeter.

The exploits of the two main characters - philosopher, bank-robbers - are farcical, and with the novel being set in France, they feel like the criminal fraternity's version of Inspector Clouseau.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars THE THOUGHT GANG by Tibor Fisher
A fat British philosopher on the run teams up with a one armed French crook just out of prison and decides to start robbing banks using methods derived from different... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Yohji
4.0 out of 5 stars The Art Of Dying Well
I was recommended The Thought Gang by a friend and jolly good read it is too. Light and lyrical it expects the reader to "suspend disbelief" quite a lot and occasionally... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dan Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-Changing
I have a friend called Alex who now lives in California. Every single book he ever recommended to me was a winner. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Quelle-Soul
5.0 out of 5 stars A Laugh On Every Page
From page 1 Fisher's voice gets right inside you and carries you throughout its length. This book joining my select pantheon of books with a laugh out loud moment on virtually... Read more
Published on 2 Aug 2012 by Genome
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
This book was recommended by a friend and I loved it... Liked the style of wrinting and the story line could lead you to find out about a lot more things and a lot about the... Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2011 by stacey
4.0 out of 5 stars The Thought Gang
I gave this book 4 stars but would probably have given it 3.5 if that facility was available. This may appear a rather small distinction to make but to give the book 3 stars would... Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2011 by N. A. Spencer
5.0 out of 5 stars "If it weren't for suicide we'd all have killed ourselves long ago."
Scintillatingly funny with darkly clever wit jumping from the page, The Thought Gang describes the exploits of Eddie Coffin, a fugitive from his University, he is a philosophy... Read more
Published on 3 Nov 2010 by Eileen Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Bank-robbing never read more rollicking
OK, so the cover of this book lacks imagination. It's such a gobbler in fact, I can see why some people would pass it over. But they're missing out on a cracking good caper. Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2010 by Wobbly Wellies
5.0 out of 5 stars A somewhat forgotten opus
If you have even a vague affinity with philosophy and perhaps have recently fallen out of love with reality, I can highly recommend this book as a cure-all. Read more
Published on 16 July 2010 by M. E. Cook
4.0 out of 5 stars Ready, Zeddie, Zho
Funny, clever, violent, pretentious and morally reprehensible - a cracking book. Feels lined up to be made into a film at some point as it's fast paced and nicely hangs punchy... Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2010 by Brian
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