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Organ Grinders Paperback – March 29, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

If there's anybody currently working hard at resuscitating the art of political incorrectness, it's Fitzhugh, first in Pest Control (LJ 3/1/97) and now in The Organ Grinders. Jerry Landis, the driving force behind the pharmaceutical concern Landaq, plots to use baboon organs to fill the demand for human hearts, lungs, and tissue. Aiding him is Arty, whose discovery of his own rapid-healing ability has led him (for a price) to the head of the organ donor line, leaving him at this point little more than a human stump in a motorized wheelchair. Pitted somewhat unevenly against them are Paul Symon and his wife, Georgette, the kind of people you always see at tables in supermarkets dutifully and ineffectively gathering signatures on petitions for good causes. These cartoonish players acting out their parts lead to some laugh-out-loud incidents that at times alarmingly mirror today's TV news. It all goes to prove that it's not easy for a satirist to stay on top of his game nowadays, when it's nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction. Suitable for most public libraries and apt to be fairly popular among audiences for uninhibited humor.?Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

If Michael Crichton and Carl Hiaasen collaborated on a book about the organ transplant and genetic engineering industries, the result might look a lot like this very bizarre novel, so long as those two wildly successful authors didn't confuse their roles. Crichton's job would be to invent a plausible extrapolation of emerging discoveries and technologies and meld it into a thrilling tale of science run amok; Hiaasen would need to create a menagerie of bizarros, cretins, medical monsters, and heartless tycoons, as well as laugh-out-loud send-ups of the madness of modern life. Fortunately, it's not necessary to wait for Crichton and Hiaasen to embark on such a collaboration. Fitzhugh has already done it, and he's thrown in a likable protagonist to fend off the craziness and keep the science on track. It's not easy walking the tightrope between medical thrillers ala Crichton and absurdist black comedy in the Hiaasen mold, but Fitzhugh manages it smoothly. Expect fans of both styles to applaud his dexterity. Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Dark Alley ed. edition (March 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060815264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060815264
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,241,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Fitzhugh was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He has also lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Seattle, Washington, and Los Angeles. He writes satiric crime novels, the occasional comic mystery, and for five years, wrote, produced and hosted "Fitzhugh's All Hand Mixed Vinyl" for the Deep Tracks channel of Sirius-XM Satellite Radio.

Two of his novels, Pest Control and Cross Dressing have been in development at Warner Brothers and Universal Studios respectively for nearly a decade. Imagine how good they'll be when they're done. Cross Dressing was nominated for the Barry Award as well as the Salt Lake County Library System's Reader's Choice Award and it won the 2002 Best Fiction award from the Mississippi Library Association.

Pest Control was one of Amazon's Top 50 Mysteries in 1997.

The Organ Grinders, which the Washington Post Book Review called, 'A laugh out loud read [and] an awe-inspiring feat' is a tender exploration of the feasibility and genetic implications of human gonad transplants, among other things. As Booklist pointed out, 'It's not easy walking the tightrope between medical thrillers a la Crichton and absurdist black comedy in the Hiaasen mold, but Fitzhugh manages it smoothly.'

One of Bill's proudest moments was when the brilliant and hysterically funny Molly Ivins wrote in one of her columns, 'Bill Fitzhugh is a seriously funny guy...The Organ Grinders is hilarious, but it can also make you gasp with horror... and the humor is completely off-the-wall.'

Reviewing his award winning novel, Fender Benders, The New York Times said, 'Fitzhugh is a strange and deadly amalgam of screenwriter and comic novelist and his facility and wit, and his taste for the perverse, put him in a league with Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard.' Fender Benders won The Lefty Award for best humorous novel of 2001. Kinky Friedman himself said Fender Benders is 'Wickedly, irredeemable funny [and] wise beyond words and music. Fitzhugh has nailed the truest depiction of Nashville since Hank went to Jesus."

Fitzhugh's fifth novel was the political satire, Heart Seizure. Former Texas governor Ann Richards said 'Fitzhugh can spin a story and skewer a politician better than just about anyone I know.' As if that wasn't enough, the good folks at the Sunday Oklahoman called it, 'A wickedly outrageous satire that takes on the federal government, the media, and today's health care system with precise and scathing wit.'

Radio Activity, the first of a comic mystery series featuring classic rock deejay Rick Shannon, was published in April 2004. Jill Conner Browne, the Boss Sweet Potato Queen herownself said, 'Bill Fitzhugh is the only mystery writer I ever really loved.'

The second novel in this series, Highway 61 Resurfaced, was published in April 2005. Unable to control himself after reading it, Carl Hiaasen said, 'Bill Fitzhugh is a deeply disturbed individual who uses his warped talents to write very funny novels, the latest being Highway 61 Resurfaced. You will seriously dig this book if you like classic rock, Southern blues, clever mysteries and cats with loathsome sinus infections.'

The Exterminators, the long-awaited sequel to Pest Control was published by Poisoned Pen Press in 2012, along with a reissue of Pest Control. Carl Hiaasen calls it "Wild and clever fun."

Fitzhugh, whose books have been translated into German, Japanese, and Italian, Spanish, and Romanian lives in Los Angeles with his wife, various animals, and his record collection.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed "The Organ Grinders". It is just as funny as his first book, "Pest Control", but definitely has some darker overtones. I would classify this book as a combination of Mystery, Science Fact/Fiction, and Comedy. It sounds like an odd combination, but read the book and you'll see what I mean!!! I normally stay away from both Mysteries and Science Fiction. I am more interested in Historical Novels, Fantasy, and the like. "Pest Control" was recommended to me by a friend and I guessed correctly that I would enjoy another book by the same author.
What did I like about "The Organ Grinders"? I am an engineer, so from the "nerd perspective", the accurate science in the book was great and a bit scary. He has obviously done a TON of research and it really shows. Just as he did in "Pest Control", most chapter begin with a bit of science. I also liked, and disliked, many of the characters in the! book. If anyone has trouble disliking the unredeemable Mr.Landis, they have a serious problem. He's a quality villain, if ever there was one. Paul Symon and Georgette are well developed characters and were very real. Some of the other characters are people I would never want to meet and would certainly never make some of the life-choices they make in the book, but they contribute to the story in so many ways. The book is also very funny. Just as I had to read "Pest Control over again to catch more of the Bob Dylan jokes, I know I need to read this one again to catch more of the Paul Simmon tidbits. I have the same last name as one of the characters, which was a bit of a bonus chuckle.
What didn't I like? There are some things that I don't really want to know about or think about.
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Format: Hardcover
Imagine a mind-meld of P. G. Wodehouse, Carl Hiaasan, and Kurt Vonegut, and you'll get an idea of Bill Fitzhugh's writing style. It's absurd, comically real, wry, and thought-provoking at the same time. In The Organ Grinders, Fitzhugh deftly weaves together the lives of half-a-dozen main characters in a rich tapestry that includes the ethics of the organ-transplant industry, industrial greed, the search for eternal life, eco-terrorism, population control, biotechnology, trailer-park culture, animal rights, and the stresses of everyday life in America today. Like a Wodehouse novel, the action is a fast-paced comedy of errors; like a Hiaasan novel, the characters are comically quirky, yet driven; and like Vonegut's recent Timequake, The Organ Grinders raises issues that deserve serious thought, but in a way that makes you want to laugh out loud (yet still be concerned with finding a solution). This is a stunning new voice; a bit dark, but nevertheless thoughtful. I borrowed this book from the library, but after reading it, feel it's a must-have for my own collection of literary gems. I couldn't put it down. And now I can't wait to read Fitzhugh's first novel, Pest Control.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'd just finished Pest Control and dove right into Organ Grinders, and it's just as funny as the first book. Perhaps even more darkly satirical (if possible!) than Pest Control, which, even though it dealt with characters such as hit men, had a somewhat lighter touch.
Integral to the book's plot is an international traffic in organs and organ donors. I don't know if things have come to the state depicted in Fitzhugh's book, but if they aren't, they probably will soon. Aside from being hilariously funny, Fitzhugh's book made me consider some of the issues surrounding organ transplants and organ donors for the first time.
Until now, I wouldn't have thought it possible for someone to write a funny book about a subject like organ transplants.
If you liked Fitzhugh's zany brand of dark humor in Pest Control, you'll like this one too.
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By A Customer on April 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Without a doubt the funniest and smartest comedy I've read in quite a while. Fitzhugh is as able with the laughs as he is well-researched, and the combination provides a blazingly intelligent and fun read that is brilliant in its mixed-nuts hilarity. Flat-out gut-busting and sharp as a tack, I think "Organ Grinders" is Fitzhugh's best book -- his others are worthy, too, by the way -- and a book anyone who wants to think and laugh at the same time MUST pick up. Enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
I must say that it is probably the weirdest and most creative book that I have ever read. The characters in the novel were especially interesting, and Paul's no-quit attitude was quite amusing to me. I loved the plot, although there were some unexpected events I didn't see coming. I came upon this book in the browsing room of a library. I had never heard of Bill Fitzhugh before but it was the cover that caught my eye-I read the qoutes, and decided to give it a try. After the first chapter, I was hooked! So I checked it out and read it in less than a week. This novel really got me thinking about how I pollute the environment everyday and the illegal organ trading that is going on. I am a high school student, and although my biology days are long gone (almost) I wished I could have learned about xenographs and organ procurement. Although this book is scattered with scientific facts and tidbits, anyone who reads this book will enjoy the storyline and the mess the characters get into.
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