Shroud of the Thwacker by Chris Elliott

This post originally appeared on I Read Everything

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.

Letters to Rollins by R.K. Overton

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Letters to Rollins

Author: R.K. Overton

Why I Consider This Book Odd: Best collection of insane but utterly fake letters ever.  I ordered this book not knowing the letters were fake, and throughout the book, I kept clinging to hope after hope that these letters were real.  Mr. Oddbooks and I laughed until our bladders hurt upon reading the first letter from Carl Plaske.  This book is meta and was meta before any of us were hip enough to use the word meta.

Type of Work: Humor

Availability: Published in 1995 by Rollins’  2.13.61 Publications, this book is out of print.  Worse, drop shippers on Amazon give the appearance that there are copies of this book to be easily had, making finding a copy an annoying experience.  (Drop shippers are people who make listings for books they do not have, hoping someone will order it.  Once they get an order, the drop shipper then desperately tries to find a copy of the book to fill the order, generally ordering a less expensive copy from someone else on Amazon and having it shipped directly to the buyer.  Letters to Rollins is a circle jerk amongst drop shippers, each listing it and each trying to get it from the other when someone orders it.  Mr. Oddbooks found this at a used book store when I realized I had been duped by a drop shipper who was relying on other drop shipper listings to get the book.  Seriously, when you use the Amazon Marketplace, don’t buy from anyone with less than 97% positive feedback.)

So bear the above in mind if you click this link to get the book.  Or better yet, send Rollins a real letter and ask him to get this book into reprints.

Comments: This is by far and away the most hilarious and random book I have read in a while.  Based partially on insanity,  and partially on the trope that Rollins released an album called “Nap TIme” in 1993 to capitalize on his extraordinary appeal to children, this book contains “letters” from an angry Christian woman, a strange 13-year old girl, a psychotic from Henry’s youth, a youthful offender who wants Henry to send him a letter dammit, an oily publicist, a man playing a one-sided game of Battleship with Rollins, a small child,  a golfing instructor who gives Henry advice on how to avoid common golfing mistakes, and several others.

Utterly random, utterly insane, I cannot help but think this book was inspired largely by the real mail that Rollins actually received (Charlie Manson contacted Rollins out of the blue after seeing him on television).  But for me, a diehard Henry Rollins fan, the true odd delight inherent in this book comes from the fact that people who do not know Rollins’ career may not know these letters are ringers and read this thinking it true.  Mr. Oddbooks, who is not quite the Rollins fan I am, did not know even the most outrageous letters were fake until I told him.  Not even the letter from KROK radio seemed to give it away.

Oh why can we not live in a world as random and hilarious as the one that peoples Letters to Rollins?

Best lines from the book:

From Kimberly Evans, a 13-year old “fan” who renamed Henry “Smokey” and sent him a pic of her cat, whom Rollins evidently kissed at one of his concerts (the girl, not the cat):

Are you mad I didn’t tell you my dad was a cop?  I was afraid that if I told you you wouldn’t want anything to do with me or my letters.  I know you’ve had problems with the police in the past, so I decided not to say anything.

I know my dad tried to raise a stink, and I’m glad the night court judge saw things your way…”

From Carl Plaske, a former classmate Rollins once punched who is going slowly but clearly insane, a state presaged by going berserk in an ice cream truck:

I  guess I went kinda nuts. I turned up the volume and blasted that stupid theme from “Love Story” out those shitty speakers, scaring the neighbor kids and killing a dog as I drove 50 miles per hour down the sidewalks.  I eventually hit a UPS truck.  My license got revoked for a year but no one pressed charges.  They were okay to hire me at Puppet Town, even if they’re idiots.

From Karl Plaske’s father, Joseph Plaske, after Carl went over the edge and started stalking Rollins to the point the FBI considered him a menace and Carl ends up institutionalized:

The institution where he is currently residing does not allow its patients to have writing instruments of any kind, so I have transcribed from his 12′ by 12′ rubber cell wall a letter he wrote in saliva and blood during the incident:

Henry Henry we all scream for Henry

Take his curly shoes and run from the cave.

If you have any insight into what this may mean, please contact me at the address above.

From his publicist, the man behind marketing the infamous “Buddy Ebsen” doll:


How is your hand?  My face is still puffed up, but the x-rays showed no concussion, and I’m not going to press charges.

As your ex-publicist, I wanted to say that it has been a pleasure being your publicist, and I’m sorry we had to part under such less than satisfactory circumstances.

From the Project 213, a group of Rollins fans who have been abducted by UFOs:

I send you this letter primarily to let you know that we exist and are helping other Rollins fans know that they are not alone in their dealings with the growing alien tide.

Yeah, I know, there are some purists out there who will not consider this book odd, per se, and I say bite me.  I want to live in the bizarro world of fake Rollins letters, which makes me odd, and the book is therefore odd by association.