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Into Hot Air: Another ""Novel"" by Chris Elliott Hardcover – November 14, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Elliot spoofs everything from survival adventures to celebrity charities to his own failed acting career in his goofy second novel. Narrator Chris Elliott's desire to mount Mount Everest ignites when he is mysteriously sent the diary of his great-uncle Percy, detailing Percy's failed Everest expedition. Hoping to unravel the mystery of Percy's disappearance, Chris and his best friend Wendell plan a trip up the mountain. Together they head to the Mountain Maniacs headquarters (where the décor is retro Katrina chic) and convince climber, bail bondsman and bounty hunter Duncan Carter to lead their expedition. With only pocket change to fund their journey, Chris recruits celebs to participate and underwrite the trek. Quickly in over their heads, the expedition members discover that if the elements don't kill them, Uncle Percy's secrets might. Elliot makes stupidity an art form (the aircraft was.... constructed entirely out of yeast paste and horse hair), but beyond the crassness and juvenile humor, there are a few flashes of sharp commentary. The work is more silly than satiric, and since Elliot doesn't take himself too seriously, perhaps the reader shouldn't, either. (Nov.)
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"A rousing good yarn . . . hilarious and vividly imagined . . . this murder mystery wrapped in laughter is simply straight-up enjoyable." -- Publishers Weekly
"Think Caleb Carr meets Monty Python." -- Entertainment Weekly
"Youll never stop laughing." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer
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Couldn't finish it, pretty awful, was hoping some of Chris's hilarity would come through, but it didn't. The book felt contrived and rushed. Not recommended.
Three stars because I'm a big CE fan, really it's a one star book, though.
Well, this book sort of continues that trend. Bits of supreme silliness and engaging lunacy, held together with a lot of fill. That makes for a bumpy read and is a test of exactly how much you like Chris Elliott. There's nothing terribly bad here, and Elliott doesn't overstay his welcome; the question I guess is how hard are you willing to work to get to the good stuff. This book took me right up to the edge on that score.
In this book, Elliott organizes a group of celebrities in climbing Mount Everest, during which they encounter the most ridiculous of narrative plot points, from a quest for a "rhombus" to monster crabs. Ellott, as in "The Shroud of the Thwacker," puts himself front-and-center in the narrative, using the clueless, egotistical jerk persona he's adopted in his comedy, from "Late Night" sketches to his "FDR" spoof to "Get a Life" (in effect, he's borrowed his own character, which is pomo to the max). Underlying the narrative are references to, in the case of "Shroud," time-travel fiction (the great "Time and Again" in particular) and in "Hot Air" the rather obscure episode in which James Stewart thought he had found a Yeti bone. These references demonstrate Elliott's basic intelligence in building his satires.
But what I like most about "Hot Air," even if the humor is sometimes hit-and-miss, is the fact that Elliott takes a conceit and builds a metanarrative that keeps commenting on itself in a fairly sophisticated (at least for me) way. Toward the end, he even admits that he made some stuff up, then attempts to undo his statement to accommodate another plot point. The book uses a slew of post-modern "borrowings," from the familiar actors on the expedition (the actress whose first name is Lauren should be particularly flattered) to the CIA- and Dalai Lama-fueled plot twists at the end. Futhermore, Elliott pulls it all off with a dynamic prose style. I'd like to see him apply his talents to a "memoir."