Book: The Shroud of the Thwacker
Author: Chris Elliott
Type of Work: Fiction, Parody
Why Did I Read This Book: Back when the Cassie Edwards Black Ferret plagiarism mess hit (yeah, read that hot mess when you’ve got some time on your hands because it is hilarious as all get out), I found myself reading sites about plagiarism because I was working a miserable cube job and wasted every possible minute I could of The Man’s time. I was shocked and appalled to see Cabin Boy listed as a plagiarist and made a mental note to buy the book and find out what was what.
After reading the book, I thought, “Aha! Morons don’t understand them some parody, represent!” Then I went back to reread the site referencing Elliott’s supposed act of plagiarism and I’ll be damned if I truly understand what happened. Referenced a robot that didn’t exist, a robot that was a hoax and violated copyright? What? You read it and tell me. All I can safely say is that I consider this less plagiarism and really more a mild publicity stunt amongst tricksters, but then again, I refuse to admit that the man who stole my heart as Larry in Groundhog Day would steal anything else.
Availability: Published by Hyperion in 2005, you can get a copy here:
Comments: It’s gonna be hard to give two craps about this book and review if the following do not apply to you:
–You have a mild crush on a balding man who used to write jokes for David Letterman.
–You read and had a violent reaction to Patricia Cornwell’s Portrait Of A Killer: Jack The Ripper — Case Closed, in which she pins the Whitechapel murders on a famous painter, using less hard proof than I use when I look at my nine cats, the hairball befouling the living room carpet and decide Wooster did it on the basis of his twitchy whiskers (actually, this is a mildly unfair assessment – if the wad of wet fur is white, it was undoubtedly Wooster).
–You read and found interminable Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.
–You read and were largely ambivalent about The Da Vinci Code.
–You find puerile humor as hi-larious as I do.
–You embrace the ridiculous more than anyone else you know.
This book is a murder mystery in which an intrepid police chief, his spunky ex-girlfriend and mayor Teddy Roosevelt try to solve a series of prostitute murders in New York, wherein the time-tripping Chris Elliott plays no small role. Really, this is the only way to recount the intricate, insane plot. It is laugh-out-loud funny, witty, and surreal, and like the best parody, shows zero love for the sources it takes to task. In the book, Elliott calls out Patricia Cornwell’s grandiose and bumbling attempts to call case closed on a murder that has stumped experts, uses most of Carr’s set up in The Alienist to frame this book, and exposes a massive, historical cabal, but unlike the sinister Opus Dei of The DaVinci Code, we’ve got the Mummers and a very hungry dinner date willing to decipher for his supper.
Oh, what a silly book this is. Delightful. Full of gross and insane jokes. So of course I think I may be the only person on the planet who loves it. Seriously, who could not love the following passage:
“What can we get you to drink?” inquired Teddy.
“Maybe something light. Caleb, dear, what was that delightful drink we used to order at Hurley’s?” She was looking directly at the police chief, but he wasn’t looking back. “Oh yes, I remember. I will have a powered opium and liquid ether frappe, with a shot of pure laudanum.”
“Waiter!” cried the mayor, “One God’s Own Enema!”
If you don’t find the above quite amusing, this is not the book for you,as the entire book is more or less the above quote. It has no redeeming value other than comedic entertainment. Period. End stop. So if you are pretty serious about your reading materials, read something else. Something by Tolstoy. Or maybe Agatha Christie. Perhaps Audrey Niffenegger. Yeah. Her. That woman who wrote about the time traveler’s wife and no one cared about her plot holes, did they? DID THEY? Just please don’t read my guy Chris and bitch because it made no sense to you and because he covers the inevitable plot issues caused by intense lunacy with even more lunacy.