By Simon Rich
Random House, Hardcover, 9781400068357, 240pp.
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
Simon Rich dazzled readers with his absurdist sense of humor in his hilarious collections Ant Farm and Free-Range Chickens. Now comes Rich’s rollicking debut novel, which explores the strangest, most twisted, and comically fraught terrain of them all: high school.
Seymour Herson is the least popular student at Glendale, a private school in Manhattan. He’s painfully shy, physically inept, and his new nick-name, “chunk style,” is in danger of entering common usage. But Seymour’s solitary existence comes to a swift end when he meets the new transfer student: Elliot Allagash, evil heir of America’s largest fortune.
Elliot’s rampant delinquency has already gotten him expelled from dozens of prep schools around the country. But despite his best efforts, he can’t get himself thrown out of Glendale; his father has simply donated too much money. Bitter and bored, Elliot decides to amuse himself by taking up a challenging and expensive new hobby: transforming Seymour into the most popular student in the school.
An unlikely friendship develops between the two loners as Elliot introduces Seymour to new concepts, like power, sabotage, and vengeance. With Elliot as his diabolical strategist and investor, Seymour scores a spot on the basketball team, becomes class president, and ruthlessly destroys his enemies. Yet despite the glow of newfound popularity, Seymour feels increasingly uneasy with Elliot’s wily designs. For an Allagash victory is dishonorable at its best, and ruinous at its worst.
Cunningly playful and wickedly funny, Elliot Allagash is a tale about all of the incredible things that money can buy, and the one or two things that it can’t.
"I found Simon Rich's first novel, about an evil teenage billionaire, to be suspenseful and hilarious. I am so glad I don't have to lie in this blurb like I usually do."—Judd Apatow
"I am a big fan of Simon Rich’s first two books, which were wonderful pu pu platters of absurdist comedy. And now comes his first novel, which is one of the funniest books about high schoolers since The Catcher in the Rye. We all must pray that Simon Rich won’t move to New Hampshire and become a recluse who spends his time reading Eastern philosophy. Because we need more books from this guy."—A. J. Jacobs
"Fellow high school losers, use your video game money to buy this book! Simon Rich will make you relive the dread, the hilarity, and the insanity of those formative years like no one else. Open at your own peril!"—Gary Shteyngart
"Rich is always funny, and he nails the bogus solemnity of high-school social politics. A high-school romp that John Hughes should be so lucky to direct."—Kirkus Reviews
"An unfailingly funny and compulsively readable mix of sweet and sour that will leave readers hoping for another helping."—Booklist