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The Thought Gang
     

The Thought Gang

4.0 2
by Tibor Fischer
 

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The setting is France; our hero is a washed-up middle-aged British philosopher named Eddie Coffin. Broke and unsure as to his next meal, he meets Hubert, an incompetent, freshly released one-armed armed robber, and the "thought gang" is born. Applying philosophy to larceny, these unlikely bandits question the meaning of life, the value of money, and the role of banks

Overview

The setting is France; our hero is a washed-up middle-aged British philosopher named Eddie Coffin. Broke and unsure as to his next meal, he meets Hubert, an incompetent, freshly released one-armed armed robber, and the "thought gang" is born. Applying philosophy to larceny, these unlikely bandits question the meaning of life, the value of money, and the role of banks as they wind their way from Montpellier to Toulon in search of the greatest heist in history.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A fat, middle-aged British philosopher turns glutton, slacker, embezzler and thief in Fischer's second novel (after Under the Frog), an infectiously immoral tale about bank robbery in contemporary France. We meet Greek philosophy don Eddie Coffin as he goes on the lam from Cambridge, where, to avoid what he despises above all-work-he has stolen the funds of a Japanese foundation, stashing them in a suitcase. Not far from Lyon, a car accident sends his carefully cached funds up in smoke, leaving him one choice: to rob banks, a trade he learns under the tutelage of crippled thug Hubert. Together, the duo are drunk, lazy and violent, but in such an innocent way that it's hard to begrudge them their subsequent fantastic run of bank-robbing luck. Coffin's stylized first-person narration (numbered in sections, like a philosophical treatise) can be grating, but eventually even wisecracks about Epictetus and Zeno-as well as Coffin's unexplained fascination with words that begin with the letter Z-become part of the fun. The juxtaposition of egghead metaphysics and juvenile gangster fantasy is summed up in the line, ``The thing about a gun is, it's like being on the right side of a Socratic dialogue.'' Often complex in structure, incorporating flashbacks of Coffin's old friends and family to touching effect, this jaunty novel is fundamentally an exercise in wish-fulfillment: shoot guns, get cash, spend it on French food. (May)
Library Journal
One middle-aged English philosopher, improbably named Eddie Coffin, down on his luck after fleeing England because of a never-explained incident involving kiddie porn, meets Hubert, a one-armed, one-legged petty robber who is also down and out, although Hubert is a cunning criminal and a superb street fighter. The two join forces in France to commit a string of bank robberies. In between the robberies and Coffin's liaisons with the first bank teller he meets are musings about the value of money, the pleasures of love, life, the police, knowledge and education, the nature of humankind, and at least a few dozen other topics. The author is fond of constructions such as "Then the present wasn't present....Gradually, I was presented with the present of the present." After readers finish the word play, they can work on the vocabulary (e.g., words like cadge, nychthemeron, cachinnate, avolating, and phantophagous abound). Fischer (Under the Frog, New Pr., 1994) tries to be glib, clever, and amusing; sometimes, he succeeds. For larger libraries serving readers of eclectic fiction who like a challenge.-Olivia Opello, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684830797
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
05/15/1997
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
905,348
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author


Tibor Fischer was born in London in 1959. His first novel, Under the Frog, won the Betty Trask Award and was a finalist for the Booker Prize. In 1993, he was named by Granta as one of the Best of Young British Novelists. This is his second novel.

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Thought Gang 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
People will probably either love this book or hate it. I liked it for the most part. I read it in one sitting but I don't think many people will be able to. It's odd.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i love this book.  it's hilarious, intelligent, and entirely original.  it grabbed me on the first page, and never let go.  with that said, nobody i've recommended it to has liked it - i think the reviewer above is correct when he says that people will either love it or hate it.  despite the fact that i seem to be alone in my love of this book, it remains one of my favorites.  my advice?  read the first few paragraphs, and base your decision off of your reaction.