Friday, May 28, 2010

Lemony Snicket: the Unauthorized Autobiography

Lemony Snicket: the Unauthorized Autobiography
© 2002 Daniel Handler
213 pages (containing "an overall feeling of doom", according to the index.)

As the official representative of Lemony Snicket in all legal, literary, and social matters, I am often asked difficult questions, even when I am in a hurry. Recently the most common questions have been the following:
  1. Will you please get out of my way?
  2. Where did Lemony Snicket's Lemony Snicket: the Unauthorized Autobiography come from? (p. ix.)

This is, I think, the oddest book I've ever read. Last summer I enjoyed The Series of Unfortunate Events immensely for its eccentric humor and mystery, so I eagerly dove into this. The Unauthorized Autobiography is a strange collection of documents that pertain to the events and people of the Unfortunate Events series. Snicket apparently passed it on -- heavily edited -- to ensure the safety of the Baudelaire children. The documents contained within -- letters, play transcripts, black and white photographs,  memos, panicked slips of paper, official V.F.D. pamphlets, and the like -- typically connect with the series as a whole, although some portions, photographs particularly, do not. (One photograph is titled "Total Strangers", and another "This is not where the Baudelaire parents are buried".)

The book as a whole is apparently intended to tantalize readers by helping them figure out answers to some questions about the series, but it was published before the fulfillment of the series. I've read the series, and so have already figured out the answers, so that portion of the book was lost on me. I enjoyed the author's eccentric sense of humor and tidbits that revealed more about the Unfortunate Events universe, but I must confess to being a bit disappointed overall. Having read the last four books of the series may have spoiled this mid-series tease for me.

Perhaps the oddest part of the book: one of V.F.D's pass phrases is from the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. Cleary was my first "favorite author" as a child, and I adored her Henry Huggins and Romana Quimby books.

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