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The Thought Gang

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,181 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
The setting is France: our hero, 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 the ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 15th 1997 by Scribner (first published 1994)
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The Man Without Qualities by Robert MusilSteppenwolf by Hermann HesseFaust by Johann Wolfgang von GoetheThe Stranger by Albert CamusThe Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
Best Philosophical Fiction
86th out of 175 books — 383 voters
Madame Bovary by Gustave FlaubertLes Misérables by Victor HugoThe Three Musketeers by Alexandre DumasThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasPerfume by Patrick Süskind
Set in France: Fiction
210th out of 329 books — 97 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,985)
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Jul 16, 2007 Kerstin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't ever try to read this book on an airplane. People will think you're crazy on accounts of your random bursts of hysterical laughter. It's weird, it's hysterical, it's wrong on many levels and it uses the letter "z" more than any other book in the history of novels. In short, it's perfect.
Dec 25, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing
As an editor, how can I not like a novel in which an underachieving Oxford don is handcuffed to a radiator until he writes his manuscript? And then produces something so bad that his editor has to write the book?

Extraordinarily funny. Bank robbery on philosophical principles.
Marc Nash
Aug 02, 2012 Marc Nash rated it it was amazing
First book I've opted for from my GR recommendations algorithm. And algy me old mate, you did a helluva job.

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 every page, along with "Karoo" and "A Fraction Of The Whole". No mean feat.

A middle aged loafer sybarite has conned his way from undergraduate to Cambridge philosophy Don. Unfortunately his predilections for alcohol,
Jordan Halsey
Jan 12, 2013 Jordan Halsey rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Carbon-based lifeforms
This still might be my favorite book. The Lord of the Rings had more impact and Infinite Jest was more ground-breaking but those are the only books that are even in the running, which should tell you how much I love the Thought Gang. Granted, there's hardly a word Tibor Fischer has written that I don't love, but the Thought Gang stands apart even in that company.

It's funny, and sad, and it's the story of everyone, although really it is about a broken-down, middle-aged Cambridge philosophy profes
Mar 02, 2008 Tosh rated it really liked it
I bought this book in London (I think used) and read it on the plane. It went from my eyes to some place lost .... Nevertheless I enjoyed it, but maybe more for the idea of bank robbers who are philosphers. I like the idea of it, which is fantastic. But is the idea better than this book? Perhaps so, but nevertheless I enjoyed the read - which made the travel more... focused on the book then the plan delays, etc.
Jan 10, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it
"I smell a nosebleed."

I'm always a sucker for smart writers doing really elaborate lowbrow kick-in-the-nuts/cheap pun type humor. And, TTG has more adjectiveized verbs than any other book I own.
Sep 21, 2007 Dane rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sort of ...
Shelves: fiction-read
Tibor Fischer's novel Thought Gang presents, for me, a reader's paradox. On one hand, it is incredibly well written, genuinely funny and the plot premise is incredible.

Allow me a quick synopsis.

A terminal slacker, drunkard, balding philosophy professor/philosopher named Eddie (our protagonist) sets out to flee his native London in the face of professional doom and pending legal action as he is found naked and hung over in a room full of child porn (no explanation on how or why he is there is eve
Jul 05, 2011 Ethan rated it it was amazing
Forget the book jacket netherworld, where "darkly comic," "sardonic," "sly," "witty," "riotous," and "uproarious" all mean "you won't laugh once."

End to end, only the opening of Todd McEwan's Arithmetic Town and Redmond O'Hanlon's travelogues rival this novel for laughs per page. Read this in public at your peril. You'll laugh. Out loud. Repeatedly.

The only caveats are 1) give it twenty pages, and 2) yes, there's one offputting, unfunny ten page stretch during the narrator's graduate school days
Mar 26, 2015 Derrick rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star, for-school
I was supposed to have read this book for school several weeks ago, but only got about halfway through and just bullshitted my way through the week, and I have a terrible excuse as to why I did not finish in time: it's a dense, very complex read, and I was lazy and didn't want to. lol. But I've let very few books unfinished, because it's just a compulsion that a lot of people have, including me. Soooo I have reluctantly finished.
-The high point of the book for me was the diction. The phrases Fi
Brent Legault
Oct 18, 2007 Brent Legault rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: zambonists, zouaves
Late in this novel, just a few thousand thankful words away from the end, the narrator has this to say: The virtue of self-discipline is a great one, and one of my cheif deficiencies, . . This could be the engine that runs The Thought Gang. Not its plot so much but its style. Fischer doesn't know when to let an outlandish metaphor lie fallow. Or perhaps he does know but ignores good sense. Either way, the result is cacaphony and my inner ear was hurting by page something-teen. I had a headache t ...more
Mar 03, 2011 Zach rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most linguistically inventive and cleverly conceived books I've read. The real joy is in the language. Every sentence is a work of art (pop art, maybe). Tibor's phrases blend philosophy with lechery with alcoholism, and not a small amount of gluttony. The result is a supremely clever narrator who plays Twister with his words, but always in a forward-moving way. For a lingo-centric novel, the plot is more than approachable, the character deeply wrought. I'm impressed by the eas ...more
Matthew L.
Mar 09, 2008 Matthew L. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: intellectuals
Recommended to Matthew by: Bonnie McDonald
Shelves: fiction
"I contemplate the possibility that I have an indestructible liver, one that will be a medical prodigy for centuries, and that long after the rest of me has melted me away, my liver will be transplanted from patient to patient, like a family heirloom."

This book was recommended to me by a formerly great friend. Though I'm not certain it stands up as a novel, it is an interesting stream of consciousness piece with some quotable quotes.

It's worth a read, but if you're not into it in the first thir
Carol Lindsey
Aug 26, 2012 Carol Lindsey rated it it was amazing
Ahhhhhhh.. I am in love with Tibor Fischer's brain. His parents were both professional Hungarian basketball players. The guy has won literary awards, offended and delighted people with his book reviews (he isn't afraid to loose a job over an opinion). This book is such a freaking good tale, my sister and I read it aloud to oneanother on a 10 hour road trip to visit relatives in cajun country. You will laugh until a hernia pops out. I will not spoil it for you, find a copy and prepare to become a ...more
Dec 03, 2015 Ezgi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Huzurlu, esprili, tıkır tıkır işleyen bir kitap. Felsefe ile ilgili kişilerin isimlerini görünce kitabı direkt olarak aldım.

Eddie; kel, şişman, tembel bir felsefecidir. Bir gün ülkesini terk edip farklı bir hayat yaşamak için yola çıkar…

Hubert; tek kollu, tek bacaklı, tek gözlü bir soyguncu. Sağlığı hiç iyi olmayan bu adamın yolu bir gün Eddie ile birleşir.

Joyclene; seksi, vurdum duymaz, iki kere boşanmış bir banka müdür yardımcısı. Onun da yolu Hubert ve Eddie ile kesişir.

Maria Grazia
L'idea è geniale. Un filosofo cialtrone, truffatore e amante della bella vita incontra un rapinatore menomato ma affamato di conoscenza, e i due si uniscono per rapinare banche allo scopo di riempirsi le tasche e diffondere la zetetica (onorata branca della filosofia).
Il libro è divertente, ma purtroppo spesso ripetitivo e i tentativi di risolvere alcune situazioni con un fraseggio mirabolante alla lunga stancano.
Da leggere, ma difficilmente da rileggere.
Chris Morton
Jun 16, 2012 Chris Morton rated it it was amazing
Took me a while to get into it because it keeps going off the subject but once a friend explained to me that the protagonist had a kind of ADD and that the use of so many z-words is a running gag, I gave it more of a chance and ended up loving it. Just wish the dictionary at the back for all the z-words had included all the z-words used, not just a selection of the most obscure ones. Anyway, a book about bank robberies has never been more fun.
Apr 08, 2016 David rated it really liked it
This is wild, zany, and interestingly intelligent. It was fun. The prose could get a bit cumbersome at times, but I think that was necessary to fit the character. It made it more work to read through, but it fit. Making it more readable would have damages the voice of the character. No other way, I think, to accomplish something as odd as this book.
Mar 18, 2009 Nick rated it it was ok
A good and entertaining book with an interesting premise. I thought the story execution could have been better though. The end left something to be desired too, and I kept thinking that it would have been a better movie than book which for me is usually not the case.
Feb 18, 2012 Brett rated it did not like it
Shelves: don-t-recommend
Outside of some humorous wordplay, there is absolutely nothing of interest or substance in this book.
Oct 07, 2015 Josh rated it it was amazing
The first time i read this book i knew i would read it again, i also knew i needed to read a bunch of other lighter books first, as a mental shower.
i have read it now a few times in different periods of my life, each time something new appears. thought gang is one of those books that is for me an intellectual progress gage; evolving from action story to comedy to clever writing to philosophical trieste, to a metaphor for life.
I love this book, try to read it once, we all have our Socrates, tibor
Helen Wagner
Apr 17, 2016 Helen Wagner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: would-recommend
I found my copy of The Thought Gang at a used book fair in Cambridge- rather fitting I soon discovered, as it chronicles the accidental bank-robbing adventures of an ex-Cambridge philosophy professor and his one armed, one legged, hemophiliac partner in-crime.
To be fair, I can easily see this book taking a lot of flack for its pretentious use of words- not only those beginning with "z" (which the narrator is quite delighted by), but also the numerous others which far surpass the vocabulary of th
Mar 15, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: completed, 2011
Fischer's sharp from the first sentence and never holds back. A self-proclaimed lay-about (who's doctorate in philosophy from Cambridge does nothing to protect him from mayhem for most of his life), Eddie Coffin begins his journey into midlife crisis with a bang: he is found by one eyed sociopath Hubert who's prosthetic leg and hand don't stop him from being seriously violent, and driven to bump off French banks for an easy Franc (published before the Euro). Sound like a Guy Ritchie film yet?

Sep 17, 2015 Maurya rated it really liked it
Highly interesting concept of bank robbers using various philosophical methods to rob banks. This is not a book about the robberies though; they are just an excuse for Tibor Fischer to turn out one outrageously funny incident after another. The dialogue shifts effortlessly from esoteric philosophical musings to what another reviewer likens to something straight out of a Guy Ritchie movie...recommended!
Jacqueline Ellis
Mar 31, 2014 Jacqueline Ellis rated it it was amazing
Fabulous!!!A phlosophy lecturer teamed with a one armed one legged robber,who become the bank robbing duo 'The thought gang' What's not to love.Laugh out loud funny,intelligent and informative.Thoroughly enjoyable!
Mar 26, 2014 Eric rated it liked it
This is really a great read for entertainment, very witty and well-written. A Guy Ritchie-esque novel (pre Sherlock Holmes)
Feb 12, 2016 Kelly rated it liked it
I enjoyed the rambling style, with some brilliant one liners in there, but sadly the rambling failed to capture my attention fully after about 200 pages of it... Sad though, as I thoroughly enjoyed the first half!
Jun 13, 2014 Yupa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Evita la monostella solo perché l'autore sa scrivere bene.
Per me, peggior libro dell'anno (per ora).
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Nov 26, 2012 Babak Fakhamzadeh rated it really liked it
An enjoyable book, similar in style and quality to Fischer's The Collector Collector, but nowhere near his magnificent Under the Frog, which was a total masterpiece for being based in reality.
Fischer uses his absurdist style once more, which most often works, but is lacking at times, being too far fetched or too much a construct.
Aug 15, 2008 Deodand rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, humour, europe
There is no dictionary that can accommodate you reading this book; you're just going to have to go with Fischer's context clues to deciper his stunning vocabulary. He does love to get it out.

I didn't like this as much as The Collector Collector, perhaps because I'm not a student of philosophy. There are a lot of in-jokes in there. Fischer is one of a very few authors I read that actually makes me laugh out loud, as opposed to going, "Hm, very funny" and moving along. Let's cheer for him to have
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Tibor Fischer is a British novelist and short story writer. In 1993 he was selected by the influential literary magazine Granta as one of the 20 best young British writers.

Fischer's parents were Hungarian basketball players, who fled Hungary in 1956. The bloody 1956 revolution, and his father's background, informed Fischer's debut novel Under the Frog, a Rabelaisian yarn about a Hungarian basketba
More about Tibor Fischer...

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“No amount of intelligence can save you from stupidity.” 14 likes
“Many of us, I suppose, see our existences not as lives, but as life-holders, zarfs, waiting for the job, the person, the event to fill it.” 6 likes
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