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The Organ Grinders

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  523 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Paul Symon is an environmentalist who's out to make the world a better place, but he's overwhelmed by too much disjointed information, too much public apathy, too much self-serving talk and not enough action. Not to mention the opposition of greedy despoiler Jerry Landis, a successful venture capitalist who is dying of a rare disease that accelerates the aging process. Lan ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by William Morrow
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The year was 1998: (1) “The Organ Grinders” by Bill Fitzhugh was first published; and (2) Viagra was approved (for its current pharmaceutical use) by the FDA. Coincidence? I think not! Fitzhugh researched the biotech industry so thoroughly it seems prophetic, even today.

For me, Bill Fitzhugh is the visionary ring-leader of the latently belligerent, vehemently passive-aggressive activists he has sneaking around in this book. With a cast full of Guerrillas, hillbillies, baboons, vegans, weenies (
Rebecca McNutt
Sep 30, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: organ-harvesting
I tried, but I really couldn't get into this book. I didn't find it comedic or creative, I thought the environmentalism stuff was really one-sided, the book was very predictable and I didn't like the characters at all.
Donni Hakanson
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I have read now two or three times!

Pure comedy with intelligence, a thriller of sorts, twists and turns, megalomania and poignant sorrow, laugh out loud moments and the mental imagery is enough to curl any vegan tree-hugging bookaholic! I LOVE this novel!

My second time romp through the pages of this tome had me just as enthralled as the first time experience. It appeases the intellect's need for information and cognitive coherence, as much as it does the mystery behind the bizarre
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
I don't recall who recommended this one, I think some friend from Bizarro Central. Sorry, friend ...

This book is well-researched and traverses fertile, fertile ground for some kind of story about human weirdness. But the characters are two-dimensional and severely clichéd, the language is mostly flat -- occasionally inspired, sure, but just as often hackneyed -- and the brief efforts to comment on the problems of environmentalism are sabotaged by the wacky-screenplay feeling of the rest of it. T
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the Earth." Albert Schweitzer
This book's main character was so much like me, it was amazing. "He didn't seem to see the same world that others did. He saw a place desperately in need of help and which seemed to be getting worse by the minute. And no one appeared the least bit concerned about the state of things...the simple physical state of the planet where they lived." (p.277)
This book was deeply satisfying in
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy, mystery
Bill Fitzhugh is a funny-as-heck writer, who bares his (baboon) fangs in this satiric and hilarious mystery/big biz/sci-fi/environmental/thriller. You can read reviews on Amazon, so I'll just give you a couple examples of his writing, one a toss-away joke, the other a wonderful image:

"'Have you ever considered the liver, Dr. Gibbs?'" Jerry Landis started to to count on his fingers. 'Hepatitis. Billiary obstruction. Hepatoma. Cirrhosis. Gilbert's disease. Metastatic cancer. Blunt force trauma. Pe
Jon Koebrick
Organ Grinders is a light Carl Hiassenesque tale. It takes some time for the story to come together with lots of characters and it moves a little slowly in the first half of the book. The second half of the book moves faster and has more absurd humorous situations. This is not as good as Fitzhugh's Pest Control but still an entertaining read.
Gilberto Tevreden
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lekker absurd verhaal met veel wetenschappelijke tekst die ook uitgelegd wordt.

Goede humor en dito tempo in het verhaal. Ik heb genoten.👍🏾
Katie Hamilton
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really good but I also found it depressing. It touches so much on humanity's inability to think beyond profit and the now and how we're destroying our own planet. But Bill Fitzhugh is a fantastic writer and keeps it light hearted even when talking about this pretty serious subject.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a crazy, wild, hilarious, part medical part sci-fi/crime/environmentalist/animal rights/ corporate greed story. It made me laugh out loud several times. The characters are people I KNOW, or know Of, and the story line is so interesting while being totally unreal (but "believable"). I immediately ordered two more books by this author... One is "Human Resources" and the other is "Exterminators (Assassin Bug Thrillers)". I expect both to be hilariously dark comedies, and will wri ...more
I found out about this book & Bill Fitzhugh in general in an SDMB message board thread about Christopher Moore. While I can see the comparison, this novel felt more like Tom Holt crossed with Carl Hiaasen; the dry humor & clever phrasing of the former and the activism and violence/brutality of the latter. Arty and Bonedigger in particular would have fit right into the Florida of Hiaasen's novels.

It was an enjoyable read, if a bit gruesome at times, and I think I'll be checking out more
Aug 06, 2011 added it
Paul Symon is dedicated to preservation of the environment. He sets up tables to try to get people to sign petitions. He writes hundreds of letters. He joins organizations dedicated to saving the Rain Forest. But there comes a time when a man (and 10,000 giant baboons) has to take action. The story revolves around one man's need to save the planet from another man's need to plunder it. Organ donation for fun and profit.
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2-meh, fiction
I've been a fan of Fitzhugh's since I read Cross Dressing in 2001. I love his sense of humor and the absurdness of his plots but this one was tough to get through. While the plot itself was typical of Fitzhugh, I think he got over-enthused about sharing his research with his audience. I don't want to know the science behind organ transplant and rejection. And if I wanted a list of websites for more information, I would want to look at the end of the book, not the middle.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some time ago, I read Pest Control, Bill Fitzhugh's first novel and liked it. I have no idea why it took me so long to get to his second but this one is even better. This guy can flat turn a phrase - about every 10 pages, his wording alone made me laugh out loud. Medical technology meets big business in this book and the results are really really funny. Plus, Fitzhugh already has 2 more out that I haven't read yet!
Jackie Weger
Bill Fitzhugh's Organ Grinder is funny, but a little spacey for me. However--I love his style and he redeemed himself in Cross Dressing. I loved the story, the plot and Oh! could only feel funny-bone pity for Dan Steele who finally discovers his way. You know you're in for a great read the instant you learn Dan's mother is holding hostage a nursing home with a paint-ball gun. So, five stars for Cross Dressing.
Anne Earney
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anne by: Jason Schanche
Shelves: pool-book
While this book did not make me laugh, not even once, I found it interesting for the interplay between the over-the-top (or not?) environmental concern pitted against the extreme opposite, with both ends also playing out on the personal level. The characters were okay, two-dimensional in a way I find typical of books that are supposed to be funny.
Jan 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
I ordinarily slog through mediocre books to see if they get better, but this one bogs down very quickly and stays there. I enjoyed Pest Control so was glad to pick this up at a sale but was quickly disappointed. The plot and cardboard caricatures are tiresome and I found myself starting to skim after 45 pages. It's time to move on to something better.
Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gives an hysterical glimpse inside the pharmaceutical business. It also has one of my favorite characters ever created. A dying millionaire who has a third testicle attached to raise his sperm count and give him a better chance of spawning.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The writing is excellent, which made it harder to put down a book about people I didn't like, subject matter I didn't at all care for, with nothing to look forward to but more of the same. I actually read about a hundred pages. I'm so glad I gave myself permission to not finish this book.
Sep 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely laugh out loud funny. Many embarrassing moments on the train as I couldn't keep it to myself. The scene with the vegetarian/vegan/fruitatarian war by itself is worth the price of admission.
Miguel Antunes
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Pest Control before this left me expecting too much from the book. I got the same humor and joy but not to the same extent of Pest Control. That was in a class of it's own. I still absolutely loved this.
Sep 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating mix of medical science/environmentalism blended with superb skill into a very funny novel. Not for the faint of heart as some of the medical descriptions are most graphic. Nevertheless an excellent and successful effort by Mr. Fitzhugh.
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: surprised
This book was absurdly hilarious. Quite a fun ride.
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good satire addressing the problems of the destruction of the earth and of overpopulation. Reminds me of Swift's "A Modest Proposal." Definitely worth reading.
Carol Jean
Whoa, between the struggles of ecologists and the evils of interspecies transplants/medical profiteering, Fitzhugh kinda lost his sense of humor on this one.... *gack*
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
also very funny while still packing a real wallop of a message about environmental responsibility.
Tom Britz
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr Fitzhugh puts a lot of information into his books. The zany antics make the story move even better. His stories are well researched and hilarious.
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
makes you think and makes you laugh
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Bill Fitzhugh worked at several FM rock radio stations in the 1970s and 1980s. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, he prefers The Band, Little Feat, and Van Morrison to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Iron Butterfly. The author of numerous screenplays and five comic novels, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and his record collection.
More about Bill Fitzhugh...

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