File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents – Lemony Snicket (2014, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Canada)
These bite-sized mini-mysteries tie into the series All the Wrong Questions and offer tantalizing tidbits about the residents of the almost ghost town Stain’d-by-the-Sea that might just become important later on. (Or maybe not – how will you ever know?). Dark, clever, and hilarious, as usual.
“When Did You See Her Last?”: All the Wrong Questions Book 2 – Lemony Snicket (2013, Harper Collins Publishers Limited, Toronto)
Lemony Snicket’s younger self keeps on asking the wrong questions in book 2 of this mystery series, as he and his ragtag friends – a savvy journalist named Moxie, two taxi driver brothers nicknamed Pip and Squeak, the mysterious sub-librarian Dashiell Qwerty (which may be the coolest name for a librarian EVER), and the dashing teenaged cook Jake Hix try to rescue a kidnapped chemist and restore order to the town Stain’d-by-the-Sea, which is fast approaching ghost status. Given Snicket’s playful writing style and dark humour, this is almost more fun for adults than for the preteen reading audience it’s geared for.
“Who Could That Be at This Hour?”: All the Wrong Questions Book 1 – Lemony Snicket (2012, Harper Collins Publishers Limited, Toronto)
Lemony Snicket is as delightfully dark as ever as a teenaged version of himself sets out to solve a complicated mystery involving a hideous statue, a peculiar girl and her kidnapped father, a young reporter for a defunct newspaper, and a half-empty town on the shores of a drained ocean. It doesn’t matter that this book is geared to a preteen reading audience – I couldn’t stop giggling and marveling over the absolutely riotous use of the English language.
Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman (2012, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto)
Sigh…the pangs of adolescent love and all the angst and grief and elation that accompany it are all wrapped up in this novel-sized epistle. Min (short for Minerva) is the “different” girl, the “arty” girl into classic films and music. When she catches the eye of Ed, the co-captain of the high school basketball team and possessor of many ex-girlfriends, she dares to believe that they have a chance at love. Typical book and film fodder, you say…but wait. You may know Daniel Handler as his alter ego Lemony Snicket, and if you do, you have an inkling of what to expect. His clever manipulation of language is positively DREAMY.
But as soon as we stepped inside, we knew we should step out….It wasn’t just the tuxedos of the men whisking around, or the red napkins folded to look like flags with a little twist in the corner for a flagpole, piled on the corner table for replacements, flags on flags on flags on flags like some war was over and the surrender complete….And it wasn’t just us. It wasn’t just that we were high school, me a junior and you a senior, with our clothes all wrong for restaurants like this, too bright and too rumpled and too zippered and too stained and too slapdash and awkward and stretched and trendy and desperate and casual and unsure and braggy and sweaty and sporty and wrong.
Why We Broke Up is a beautiful, sad, and perfectly captured snapshot of first love and broken hearts, a delightful sentimental read even if you haven’t been a teenager in a great long while.
Ah, Monday morning…inevitable and fiendish. Sometimes I feel guilty about not being all excited and springy-of-step at the beginning of the week: after all, Monday should be the launchpad of a seven-day stretch filled with promise and joy. Yup. That’s usually not the case – I suppose it depends on how much sleep I got Sunday night. Still, around Thursday or Friday I start to believe that the week hasn’t quite been the write-off I figured it for, and all seems positively rosy until Monday rolls around again.
Now, imagine if every day were a Monday.
That kind of thinking is the basis of Lemony Snicket’s book Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid, a collection of his own “quotes.” As usual, Snicket is implacably truthful, and irresistably, simultaneously hilarious and thought-provoking. In Horseradish, he offers up unhelpful and hopeless nuggets about the dangers of love, the certainty of death, the tediousness of life, and what to do should an alligator bite off your arm if you’re, say, one of those annoying “glass-is-half-full” kind of people. If you’re seeking inspiring words to encourage greater achievement and enlightenment, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. Mr. Snicket doesn’t roll that way. And I, for one, am thrilled about that. Happy Monday, everyone!