Elliot Allagash

Elliot Allagash

A Novel

Book - 2010
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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 Glenda≤ 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.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400068357
Branch Call Number: RIC
Characteristics: 227 p. ;,20 cm

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Mark_Daly Aug 14, 2017

It's as if Daniel Pinkwater wrote "Heathers".

FindingJane Dec 21, 2014

Elliot Allagash is one of literature’s unrepentant monsters like Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. Unlike Jean-Baptiste, Elliot’s machinations are fueled in equal parts by disinterest in human beings, complete and utter disdain for them and the malicious urge to crush them simply for refusing his slightest requests. This attitude of his is fed by an over-abundance of wealth, a competitive, unloving father and the illness that may be killing him.

But Mr. Rich refuses to let us feel sorry for Elliot, just as Elliot doesn’t feel sorry for himself. The novelist wisely doesn’t waste pages trying to analyze his deficiencies. Instead, the main focus of the novel is on one Seymour Herson, a pathetic schlub who is made into Elliot’s hapless experiment.

The novel does an excellent job of showing the corrosive and corrupting nature of power, how popularity isn’t what it’s cracked up to be and how people can have depths that aren’t easily figured out, even by someone as astute as Elliot purports to be. This YA novel thus gradually reveals itself to be an incisive deconstruction of human nature—and that high school IS life, both a preparation for it and an examination of it in miniature.

It is warming and terrifying, triumphant and defeating. The reader may loathe Elliot’s behavior but we can’t deny its success, mainly because he knows how easily humans can be manipulated. Elliot may be despicable but no more so than anybody else secretly is. That’s what makes him and Seymour, whom Elliot doesn’t even realize could be a friend, such excellently conceived creations.

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mpot
May 09, 2011

How strange. A weird billionaire kid adopts a dork in high school and elevates him. I'd read more by this author.

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Dr_Inferno
Mar 25, 2012

Dr_Inferno thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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