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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Speaking of asking the wrong questions...

So I just realized that even though I'm writing these in chronological order, since I'm dumping them all at once you're probably reading them backwards. Anyway, speaking of Lemony Snicket, I read When Did You See Her Last? All I can say is I hope that this isn't a trilogy. It is, however, #2 of the All the Wrong Questions series.

So this is a book about kids, I guess. And it has cute illustrations, and the author's pen name is whimsical. But doggonit if it isn't a good piece of literature anyway. I liked the Series of Unfortunate Events series, and have been known to say that it's a good primer for learning to read seriously both for the young'uns and the beach page-turner only adult crowd. I mean that by reading those books you can learn how to read harder books and have fun doing it. It's like a college lit class but without all of the dichotomy talk and girls with crushes on the sad professor who wishes he were a writer. You know, like if he had a blog that received upwards of 25 views per post like me.

The series has its share of missteps, though, and by the end I was a little sick of Snicket's mannerisms, so it was with a little trepidation that I started into the All the Wrong Questions books. I was intrigued by the premise that they were an homage to the detective novels of the 30s and then I was like sure.

Now I've read a lot of books of that era (one is coming soon, so FUN!) and then I've read a lot of books trying to capture that same mood and feel to varying degrees of success. I've mentioned a couple who I think nail it. But dangit if Snicket doesn't blow them all out of the water.
"He looked like the kind of person who would tell you that he did not have an umbrella to lend you when he actually had several and simply wanted to see you get soaked."
"It was the color of someone buying you an ice cream cone for no reason at all."
And this one. Holy crap, people. I mean are you seriously reading this right now? Was I seriously reading it? Am I typing it? I can't remember what I was saying:
"The three of us stood there for a minute. I don't know what Stew was thinking, and the filing cabinet wasn't thinking anything. But I was thinking, is this the world? Is this really the place in which you ended up, Snicket? It was a question that struck me, as it might strike you, when something ridiculous was going on, or something sad. I wondered if this was really where I should be, or if there was another world someplace, less ridiculous and less sad. But I never knew the answer to that question. Perhaps I had been in another world before I was born, and did not remember it, or perhaps I would see another world when I died, which I was in no hurry to do. In the meantime, I was stuck in a police station, doing something so ridiculous it felt sad, and feeling so sad it was ridiculous. The world of the police station, the world of Stain'd-by-the-Sea and all the wrong questions I was asking, was the only world I could see."
People. I can do this all day. Literally. This is a long train ride.

OK, one more:
"The dumplings had the flavor of paradise, and the broth spread through my veins like a secret that's fun to keep."
I really like Daniel Handler. I like that he's bringing an adult novelist's chops to young adults. I like that he allows the medium to let him be funny, and satirize literary tropes, and teach vocabulary and he does it with the confidence of... like a woman selling pudding or something? I'm not as good at this is he is.