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Young Adult 

Wednesday, Jun 15 2011
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We were once slightly bitter about wunderkind comedy writer Simon Rich, a former Harvard Lampoon president, the son of former New York Times columnist Frank Rich, the youngest writer in SNL history, and a dead ringer for a very young and prepickled Pete Doherty with a possible Kate Moss blush around the cheekbones. Of course this guy got a book deal. Then we finally picked up 2007’s Ant Farm, a very slim, almost weightless thing, and realized, Oh — so he’s effing brilliant. We did the same thing with his next book, the even thinner Free-Range Chickens. His airy, sneaky vignettes about childhood, dying, and God made us forget all about things like nepotism and Harvard, not to mention books by other comedians, too many of which have all the impact of a latter-day Rob Schneider joke. Three years later, after which Rich seemed to age only four hours (he looks a rough 14, if we’re still comparing him to Doherty), he released a comic novel, Elliot Allagash, and he stuffed it: big characters, big money, and big, extravagant scenes. He explained in an interview that he wanted his character to be able to do anything, so he made him super rich. He also made him super evil, and in eighth grade. Effing brilliant? Director Jason Reitman thinks so; he’s attached to the movie deal.
Wed., June 22, 7 p.m., 2011

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Michael Leaverton

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