Bewildering Stories

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Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Series Title: "A Series Of Unfortunate Events"
Book 1: A Bad Beginning
Author: Lemony Snicket
Harper Collins
176 pages
ISBN: 0064407667
Price: $10.99

What can one say about Lemony Snicket? Probably either too much, or not enough. I had seen the Lemony Snicket books around the bookstore that I frequent, and they looked interesting enough, (I mean, "a series of unfortunate events"? Obviously a warped gentleman...) but my niece who is 13 asked me had I read any yet? We'd just been talking about Sailor Moon and other Anime greats to her parent's great lack of understanding. And sadly, I had to reply that no, I hadn't had a chance to do so. That has since been remedied.

Yes, these are kid's books. Theoretically aimed at the 9 to 12 grouping. But these are kid's books with a difference. Right at the beginning, the author warns the reader that if he/she wants to read a book with a happy ending to put the book down immediately. This particular remonstrance is repeated in each of the books. Right now, we are at Book 10 -- The Slippery Slope, with three more to go in the series. Although aimed at children, these books can be read with deep amusement by adults. There are more allusions and bits of business that children probably won't get (unless, of course, they are highly educated, or deeply disturbed) but that an adult will find fascinating.

Beginning at the beginning (always cumbersome, but probably necessary, eh?) we start with the dramatis personae. The Baudelaire children--Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Charles Baudelaire was a great French poet and author of Flowers of Evil, the first reference to which I found in the Roger Zelazny novel Roadmarks. Klaus and Sunny were the names of Klaus and Sunny Von Bulow of murder trial fame, and Violet, perhaps named after Violet Sharpe, innocent victim of Lindbergh kidnapping notoriety.

For more detailed information on the multiferous allusions in what has come to be called "ASOUE", visit's Incomplete Guide to Lemony Snicket Allusions. There are over 128000 hits in Google that refer in some fashion to Lemony Snicket. This is indeed scary.

Anyway, things begin badly for the Baudelaire children when their loving parents die in a fire on Page 8 of book 1, and they go downhill from there, but the books are written with such unremitting somberness, the adults are so incompetent (generally speaking) and twittable, and the author, who at the beginning is simply the narrator, but who as time goes on, ends up in the series as a character interacting albeit at a distance, that the reader can't help but be drawn in and want to read more, and more. And therefore, go thou, and do likewise. Great stories, and why was there nothing like this when I was a child?

Copyright © 2004 by Jerry Wright