Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of books, (11 books so far; 13 are planned all-in-all) about the Baudelaire children, three rich siblings heir to a sizeable inheritance after their parents die in a mysterious arson attack at their mansion.

The first three books of the series have been adapted by screenwriter Robert Gordon of Men In Black II fame, starring Jim Carrey as the villain, the beastly Count Olaf, a distant relative of the Baudelaires who, in the story, is an actor by profession.

The author, Lemony Snicket, is a pseudonym of Jewish author Daniel Handler. He graduated from Wesleyan University in Worchester, majoring in English and American Studies, and is now a fulltime author.

The Series of Unfortunate Events is distressingly true to its title. It is indeed, a series of extremely unfortunate events that come tumbling down ruthlessly on the Baudelaire orphans almost at a regular interval of 10 pages. Dark and depressing, important characters are brutally murdered, and the cruelty the orphans face almost brings tears to your eyes.

In an interview on, he says:

"I think you learn something from any good book, and I think that one's education comes largely from literature. But over and over, the message of children's books is, 'If you behave well, you'll be rewarded.' Which is not a very Jewish message. It is just not an interesting message to me, and not a true one."

"Judaism doesn't really promise any reward, they just emphasize that good behavior is more or less its own reward,"

Amid the terrible circumstances faced by the orphans, they remain tremendously resolute, never despairing and always doing the right thing. And so, Handler introduces humour in the dark and dreary context of the story, never forgetting to keep at least one sympathetic character in every book.

Handler talks to the reader in a conversational first-person tone, and describes and explains "difficult" phrases and words in the context of the story. As such, after reading the first 6 books in the series, I would suggest these books to any adult or child, because there is actually much to learn from Handler's narration.

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I write essays in my spare time on things that are important to me. The ones that I feel are any good, or make any sense, I put them up here. :)