Chris Elliott wrote a steam punk novel. I seriously had to rewrite my knowledge of literature when I found this out.
I am a big fan of Chris Elliott, and everything he touches, whether it is his own show or movie, or just an appearance somewhere else, has his special brand of quirky comedy. But of course, almost all comedy is quirky, so it is hard to describe what is different about Chris Elliott. Just like it is hard to describe the plot of his book. But I will get to that in a minute. But the thing is, it is pretty easy to be a little more clever, daring and left field when you are a comedian on television, because honestly, TV is pretty dumb. Can someone who was considered edgy in an era when TV comedy was Full House and Family Ties manage to be funny for 360 pages in 2008?
Oh yes they can.
The Shroud of the Thwacker is set in the late 1800s, and is loosely based around a Jack the Ripper style series of murders. The murders are investigated by the New York City police chief and his ex-girlfriend, a sophisticated female reporter, and aided by rotund and clumsy New York City mayor Teddy Roosevelt. Their investigation brings them into contact with Boss Tweed and the Mummers, both seeming to be working for ends that don't quite make sense, especially since the mayor of Midget City gets killed before he can explain everything. Chris Elliott, the author, is reading about all of this, and trying to make sense of it, in between Yoko Ono trying to maneuver him out of his apartment. Can three people with kerosene powered mobile phones and maybe a robot and some self-referential time travel unravel the plot? And if so, how many different times can they unravel it?
Hilarious? Yes. Clever? Most definetely. Smart? Mostly. Proof that a great comedian can also be a great writer? Probably.