Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer (3/5)

First published: 1994
Page count: 307

The back says: 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.

I say: I’ll be honest, the only reason I picked this up was because there’s a picture of Nietzsche on the cover and it was free from yearly the library culling.

Free books?

Why yes, thank you.

Either way, the story is told by the British philosopher Eddie Coffin who has to flee England for reasons I won’t reveal. He winds up in France, where he meets one-armed, one-legged, Hubert who tries to rob him at the hotel he’s staying. However, Eddie has just been in a car accident and lost all his money, so for some reason they decide to go rob a bank together.

As you do.

After the first robbery is a success (Eddie even manages to get the number of the cashier of the bank they robbed), Hubert decides that they are going to name themselves The Thought Gang and proceed with bank robberies across France. Eddie pretty much goes along with it because he has nothing better to do.

Oh and because Hubert shows interest in his philosophical ponderings.

As far as the story goes, it was nice enough. Not really my cup of tea, but it was interesting with a few twists and some harmless levity.

The writing, on the other hand, was a different matter altogether. It fluctuated between comedic brilliance, to linguistic acrobatics, to far too much information about dead philosophers, to almost every word beginning with the letter z in the English language.


I got through about half the book before realising there was a dictionary at the back with the z-words listed. So even Fischer knew he had gone over the top with his character’s annoying language.

In a lot of ways I loved this; it fed the linguistic and philosophical beast within me, and in theory it would be the perfect novel for me. But somehow it left me rather deflated and I can’t really put my finger on why.

3/5 for now (because chances are high I’ll return to it in a few years).

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