"Except when she used the few actual words in her vocabulary, like "bottle," "mommy," and "bite," most people had trouble understanding what is was that Sunny was saying. For instance, this morning she was saying "Gack!" over and over, which probably meant, "Look at that mysterious figure emerging from the fog!""
- Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning
* * *
Nothing against Harry Potter, but for me, A Series of Unfortunate Events takes the cake. Long before the Netflix series and the (much better) movie adaptation starring Meryl Streep and Jim Carrey, there were 13 books. And each book had thirteen chapters, recounting the journeys of three orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire. In Book 1 (and 2-13) they must escape from Count Olaf's never-ending plots to steal their inheritance fortune, and seek out the truth about their parents' mysterious deaths. And then there is Lemony Snicket himself.
The coy and quirky detective-narrator, the one assembling this series of unfortunate events for us the readers; for me, he is the most interesting part of the novels. Each book begins with an ominous dedication page to a woman known only as Beatrice, Snicket's lover, (For example, To Beatrice—darling, dearest, dead.), and the enigmatic persona grows from there, weaving through the chapters via a series of self-referential, fourth-wall-breaking moments, that halt the Baudelaire's strict narrative, yet offer witty vocabulary sessions, philosophical quips, and deliberately-over-the-top flourishes to heighten the ominous, sinister tone of the story's world; simultaneously undoing that tone.
The Bad Beginning is one hell of a fun read. Leaning on the author's back-cover description, "In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast." Rereading it eighteen years later, I still laughed out loud at times and can't wait to dive into Lemony Snicket's other series, All the Wrong Questions, a spoof of kid-detective and noir genres.
"With all due respect." [JG]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
5. "In the time since the Baudelaire parents' death, most of the Baudelaire orphan's friends had fallen by the wayside, an expression which here means "they stopped calling, writing, and stopping by to see any of the Baudelaires, making them very lonely." You and I, of course, would never do this to any of our grieving acquaintances, but it is a sad truth in life that when someone has lost a loved one, friend sometimes avoid the person, just when the presence of friends is most needed."
4. "Unless you are a lawyer, it will probably strike you as off that Count Olaf's plan was defeated byViolet signing with her left hand instead of her right. But the law is an odd thing. For instance, one country in Europe has a law that requires all its bakers to sell bread at the exact same price. A certain island has a law that forbids anyone from removing its fruit. And a town not too fare from where you live has a law bars me from coming within five miles of its borders..."
3. "For most of the afternoon, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny cooked the puttanesca sauce according to the recipe. Violet roasted the garlic and washed and chopped the anchovies. Klaus peeled the tomatoes and pitted the olives. Sunny banged on a pot with a wooden spoon, singing a rather repetitive song she had written herself."
2. "[Count] Olaf's eyes were shining bright as if he already had an idea."
1. "The morning's note from Count Olaf ordered them to chop firewood in the backyard, and as Violet and Klaus swung the axe down over each log to break it into smaller pieces, they discussed possible plans of action, while Sunny chewed meditatively on a small piece of wood."
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE