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Several days ago, I had the fortune to comment on Steve Martin's book shopgirl, in which I pointed out the subtlety with which Steve Martin incorporates his voice into his writing, without making it obvious to the audience that he is Steve Martin. If you take that statement and reverse it and turn it inside out, you will have "Into Hot Air", a novel by comedian Chris Elliott, telling the story of an imagined expedition to Mt. Everest, a la Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air.

For those not familiar with Chris Elliott, he has a long standing career as a humorist, both as a writer, and as a performer. His humor is overblown and sometimes grotesque, often building from episode to episode with more and more hyperbole. And such was the case in his last book, the steampunk murder mystery Shroud of the Thwacker, and such is the case in "Into Hot Air", a potpourri of satires, send-ups and ridiculous adventures as Chris Elliott (who is always a character in his own works) and a team of assorted celebrities try to make their way to the top of Mt. Everest amongst a nest of odd conspiracies.

Despite the lack of subtlety, Chris Elliott (the author, if not the character) is not stupid, and the book is actually quite smart. If there is any problem with the book, it is with Chris Elliott's broadcast matter of humor: he throws out so many jokes, that sometimes they are not funny. For example, making fun of Tony Danza, in 2010, does not strike me as particularly fresh humor. However, by the end of the book, much as been revealed, and the overall impression is good.

I am not sure that the book quite lives up to some of Elliott's other works of humor, some of which have become underground classics. However, it is still an entertaining read.

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