I picked this book up on the tail-end of my Christmas break, as I was travelling back to York from London. So it was quite fitting that I finally finished it on my journey back down to London, en route to Budapest. It’s not that it was a slow read, just that it had been sitting in the back of a drawer, philosophy being the last thing I wanted to think about after a day in the library.
The Thought Gang is author Fischer’s second book, and essentially comprises of the musings of a possibly criminal alcoholic Cambridge philosopher and his escape to France, a move that x) brings him closer to fine wine, y) connects him with Hubert, a one armed bank robber with an aspiring interest in philosophy, and z) removes the question mark on his criminality. They start to rob banks together (naturally) and become some of the most wanted men in France. It is all very simple, until you get to the philosophical insight embedded in the text.
The premise is a great idea, and mainly why I picked the book up in the first place. That and the moustache on the cover of my copy (Never judge a book by its cover). I enjoyed how the structure followed Dr Eddie Coffin, the main character’s, thoughts, instead of using chapters. However, this at times made the text a little dense. I also enjoyed the descriptions of action and violence that Fischer deploys, as I imagined Coffin to be remarkably like an intelligent Eddie Hitler from BBC’s Bottom. My only issue with the text was that at times the writing became too concerned with philosophic debate, in a way that lost me as a novice and marred some of the humour.
Aside from this I found The Thought Gang much more enjoyable when I had the opportunity to make time for reading (a 5 hour bus journey). It is not a book that can be simply put aside with an odd page being read here and there. I would recommend this to anyone who thinks they are a bit of a smart alec, yet is still able to stoop to the level where physical violence is amusing.