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What Are You Reading? Lemony Snicket Edition


Daniel Handler, known the world over by his pen name, Lemony Snicket, is the author of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" books which have sold more than 60 million copies and were translated into 41 languages. The first three were adapted into the 2004 movie of the same title.

The Perilous Parlor Game, a video game and card game all came out of the series, as will the upcoming Netflix 13 episode series. He has also written The Composer is Dead, 13 Words and the recently completed quintet All the Wrong Questions as Lemony Snicket and many others as Daniel Handler.

Lemony Snicket
Book 4 in the All the Wrong Questions series: Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights?


Handler attends the American Library Association Conference each year, promoting literacy and library excellence through his Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity award. The book signing at this year's conference gave me the perfect opportunity to ask him a few questions.

Adrienne Rich Collected Poems coverWhat are you reading at the moment?

I like to invert the idea of summer reading, and tackle something more difficult, rather than easier, when I have more time to read.  I’m making my way through Trilce, the modernist masterpiece by Peruvian poet César Vallejo. The Clayton Eshleman translation and notes are helping me at least grasp the hem of its mighty mystery.

What book(s) do you keep coming back to?

I just bought the Adrienne Rich Collected Poems and been leafing through it realizing what fierce and challenging companionship her work has been to me for, sheesh, thirty years now.

What was/is your favorite book to read to your son?

There have been so many, but it’s hard to beat Chris Raschka’s Goosey Goose.  My son is 12 and still finds it on the shelf and we read it out loud cracking each other up.

You are best known for A Series of Unfortunate Events. In a business full of happy little elves, were you worried about how such a marvelously maudlin tale would be received?

There was nothing to worry about.  I knew the books would fail.  I was amazed anyone was publishing them.

A Series of Unfortunate Events cover

It turned out to be a fantastic hit, and some rather big names joined in the fun when Hollywood came a-calling to adapt it. Were you happy with the outcome? Are there any similar plans for All the Wrong Questions? How do you feel about movie adaptations in general?

What I learned with the movie—and what I am learning, again, as Netflix films its first season of Unfortunate Events—is that watching an adaptation is like finding an enormous lizard in your back yard.  You don’t have to believe that it’s yours, but it’s still entertaining to watch it crawl around.  And if the lizard buys you a house, well, isn’t it really your favorite lizard?

How do you feel about interviewers who ask three questions and play them off as only one?

All good questions are properly answered with questions, aren’t they?  Don’t you think? Yes?

Trilce coverThough César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza published only three books of poetry during his career, his innovative work in poetry, playwriting and journalism were so revolutionary that he was dubbed “the greatest twentieth-century poet in any language" and "the greatest universal poet since Dante.” Eshleman has a long history of translating Vallejo, whose work pushes the limits of the Spanish language. Translating such works is a huge undertaking, and Eshleman won the US National Book Award for his (and José Rubia Barcia’s) astounding accomplishment.

Adrienne Cecile Rich was an award winning poet, essayist, activist and professor. Her work challenged the ideals of the American Dream, championed feminism and railed against war and systemic poverty. In 1997 she turned down the highest award given to artists, the National Medal for the Arts, saying that art "means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of the power which holds it hostage."

Goosey Goose cover

Goosey Goose is part of the Thingy Thing series by Chris Raschka. As innocent as the titular charactor may apear on the cover, big trouble looms for those who cross the goose! 

Goose attack

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Thanks, Lemony Snicket

Thanks for this post. It brings back such good memories of the Lemony Snicket books. I like the idea of reading something more difficult, instead of easier, in the summer, too. And I have never ready Goosey Goose, but now I want to.

Glad you liked it!

Have you read his recent series? It looks really good, but I haven't made it to that point in my book list yet.

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