Seymour isn't cool, but he isn't a geek either. He's a lonely, obedient 8th grade loser at Glendale, a second tier prep school in Manhattan. His chubbiness has recently earned him the nick name "Chunk Style" and he has resigned himself to a life of isolation. All of this is about to change.
After successfully getting himself expelled from every reputable school in the country, Elliot Allagash, the arrogant heir of America's largest fortune, finds himself marooned at Glendale. Try as he may, Elliot cannot get expelled this time; his father has donated too much money. Bitter and bored, Elliot decides to amuse himself by taking up a new hobby: transforming Seymour into the most popular student in school.
An unlikely friendship develops between these two loners as Elliot introduces Seymour to new concepts, like power, sabotage and vengeance. With Elliot as his diabolical guide, Seymour gradually learns about all of the incredible things that money can buy, and the one or two things that it can't. Hilarious, ingenious and tightly plotted, Elliot Allagash reminds you what your teens were like, and why growing up is so hard to do.
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... 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.