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Elliot Allagash: A Novel Hardcover – Dolby, May 25, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400068355
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400068357
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,404,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Seth Meyers Reviews Elliott Allagash

Seth Meyers is completing his ninth season on Saturday Night Live, his fourth season as head writer, and his fourth season as anchor of "Weekend Update." Meyers heads a writing staff that has won three Writer's Guild Awards as well as a Peabody for the show's 2008 election coverage. Read his review of Elliot Allagash:

We hired Simon Rich at SNL because of his amazing short fiction. When he told us he was writing a novel we made it clear that were it not up to his previous high standard we would have no choice but to terminate his employment. Well, I just finished Elliot Allagash and I’m happy to say, he still has his job.

Elliot Allagash takes place in eighth grade and this is great news for anyone familiar with Simon’s writing. Every comedy writer I know went through eighth grade but none render the details of it quite like Simon. Familiar schoolyard archetypes from nerds to bullies to hot girls all appear but they’re sharper than ever.

And it would be enough if Simon just spent his book examining the status ladder of Glendale Academy but fortunately there is so much more. Because the title character, Elliot Allagash is one of the best villains I’ve ever encountered in fiction. By age thirteen his offenses include "vandalism, truancy, unprovoked violence, drunkenness, hiring an imposter to take a standardized test, and blackmail." In a classic deal-with-the-devil arrangement Elliot offers to make Seymour, our hero, the most popular kid in the school with the simple condition that Seymour must do everything Elliot says. What makes this journey delightful is that Elliot is extremely rich.

The details of Elliot’s wealth are joyous to read and too numerous to count. My favorite--the Allagash family belongs to the Seven Circles Club, a club so exclusive that they denied George Washington’s only son membership because "his father was a farmer."

A lot of very successful adults I know still wish they could re-live high school as someone popular. Reading this hilarious morality tale about the cost of that popularity makes me happy that I went through my high school years as an outsider. And it makes me even happier that Simon Rich did.



From Publishers Weekly

Saturday Night Live writer Rich's first novel (after two humorous collections) is a hit and miss riff on Pygmalion in which genial high school loser Seymour gets a life-changing makeover after meeting Elliot, a fabulously wealthy malcontent who has transferred to Seymour's Manhattan private school. Elliot's lessons on the power of money and the fine art of popularity are given in exchange for chubby Seymour's agreement to do whatever Elliot tells him to do, and, sure enough, Seymour transforms from consummate outsider to a Harvard-bound, straight-A class president. But as the book constantly reminds readers, there are things money can't buy, even for the Allagash family, whose astronomical wealth comes, believe it or not, from an ancestor's invention of paper. Elliot knew the functions of all his father's companies... [but] never seemed to know what I was thinking or feeling, opines Seymour, who grows increasingly complacent in Elliot's schemes and alienated from his dimensionless, doting parents. While Rich is undoubtedly funny and quick-witted, his novelistic chops are underdeveloped, and the narrative's inevitability and the lack of character development detract from the book's finer, funnier points. (May)
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Customer Reviews

Unfortunately, except for a few good one-liners, it's just not well written and the characters are really thin.
JRH
The second time it was just as funny, but I also found it to be a serious novel: an insightful coming-of-age story, with engaging characters and themes.
Anon.
Comedy books are at a low point, and Rich is now one of the few writers I look forward to releasing books and recommend to friends.
Bibliophile21

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. Feldman VINE VOICE on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Elliot Allagash" is a fantasy for adolescents. Can Seymour Herstein, a chubby, unpopular eighth grade prep school boy consigned to chugging chocolate milks at the loser lunch table be transformed almost instantly into an athletic, straight-A class president? Yes, he can! Enter Elliot Allagash, a fabulously wealthy, martini-swilling, completely amoral classmate and his sidekick, the protean and vaguely menacing chauffeur, James; for the two of them, there is nothing that money, lies, and guile cannot buy, from the answers to the French quiz to a slot for Seymour (along with Elliot, of course) at Harvard.

Like a fairy tale, it is completely improbable---characters, plot, the whole thing. Or perhaps a better comparison is to a video game. One of Seymour's favorites is Ninja Streets, the highest of whose 256 levels is impossible to reach, unless you have the secret key. When Seymour finally gets to the highest level, the action hero character disappears and the screen goes black. "Elliot Allagash" is like that; each action (Elliot gets Seymour on TV, Elliot gets Seymour the popular girl, Elliot ruins the reputation of a restaurant that insults him, Elliot makes everyone believe that Seymour is researching the cure for a terrible disease, and so on) requires more cunning and is more unbelievable than the last.

Fairy tale? Video game? Overcoming one's eighth grade demons? Gaming the college application system? This isn't comedy for adults, it's Young Adult Literature. Appropriate to that genre, there's a nice moral ending, too, when Seymour's increasingly tenuous persona DOES go black, like the video game, and he returns to the loving arms of his nice but clueless parents.

There was one puzzle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anon. on November 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first time I read this it was hilarious. The second time it was just as funny, but I also found it to be a serious novel: an insightful coming-of-age story, with engaging characters and themes. One reviewer said that Mr. Rich is no JD Salinger; this is true, Rich is better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Klocker on September 25, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My Book Club chose this book with the hopes that it was going to be a funny story. However, it wasn't that funny. In fact, the story really never went anywhere. I felt the anticipation of the story rising as I read, but it came to an ending that was somewhat flat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Christensen on September 20, 2012
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I first read a review of "What in God's Name" and was intrigued. When I went to purchase it, Ellion Allagash was offered as a suggestion so I went for it. I loved both books so much so i have order Simopn rich's other 2 books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Higginbotham on June 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I probably would have loved it as a 13 year old. As a 37 year old man I found it an easy, entertaining read with a few laughs.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Gentle Reader on May 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the review in the NY Times (ahem, we think we know why this slight tale was reviewed in the NY Times), I expected a far more clever and fun story. The primary problem is that absolutely none of the characters in this slight novel are fully formed, real people. They strut and fret their time upon the stage and then are no more with nary a whimper. What was Elliot's real motivation and why did Seymour (an ode to Seymour Glass it seems) continue to go along with Elliot's schemes as they became more and more outlandish? We never really see Seymour in his full flower of popularity, so it's hard to understand what really happens to him on more than a completely superficial level (i.e. he gets into Harvard). Were Seymour's parents deaf, dumb and blind? How could they not know that unusual something was going on with their son over the course of the four years that this story purportedly takes place? And how absolutely stupidly clueless is everyone in their school. I know it's supposed to be a comic romp, but it stretches credulity, and not in a good way. For stretching credulity in a good way, see P.G. Wodehouse.

I bought this book because I have a son going into HS, so I thought it might be fun for him to read. I don't think that I will waste his time.
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Good story. Not your standard "high school schlub meets guardian mentor" tale. Creative. Expected more laughs, but didn't miss them as the plot line didn't need them.
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By Diana Robins on September 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wish I had liked the characters more. This kind of characture is not entertaining to me. Maybe it would have been better as a short story. I don't recommend it.
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