Seymour Herson is a Jewish boy looking back at the past five years of school, in which he formed an unholy alliance with Elliot Allagash. The latter is a Machiavellian scion of a family that made money by accidentally inventing paper. Seymour attends Glendale (an alternate form of Dalton, which author Rich attended) and, until he befriends Allagash, has no redeeming characteristics, in fact few characteristics at all, save for ubiquitous victimhood. Allagash takes it as a challenge to make this nobody the biggest somebody at the school.
And his machinations are devious and successful.
While the Pygmalion plot relies on set-pieces and both Seymour and Elliot are, at times, little more than caricature, the subversive humor and offbeat tone makes the book work. But its Rich –some who might call a comic prodigy who published his first book at 23 (Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations, then a year later released Free Range Chickens) - himself that proves interesting. While Elliot Allagash is his first novel, it’s strikingly well done for such a young man (who also writes for SNL) and I look forward to reading his second novel, What in God’s Name.