BookBrowse Reviews The End by Lemony Snicket

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The End

A Series of Unfortunate Events #13

by Lemony Snicket

The End by Lemony Snicket
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    Oct 2006, 368 pages

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The End has come! Ages 9-12

From the book jacket: You are presumably looking at the back of this book, or the end of the end. The end of the end is the best place to begin the end, because if you read the end from the beginning of the beginning of the end to the end of the end of the end, you will arrive at the end of the end of your rope. 

This book is the last in A Series of Unfortunate Events, and even if you braved the previous twelve volumes, you probably can't stand such unpleasantries as a fearsome storm, a suspicious beverage, a herd of wild sheep, an enormous bird cage, and a truly haunting secret about the Baudelaire parents.

It has been my solemn occupation to complete the history of the Baudelaire orphans, and at last I am finished. You likely have some other occupation, so if I were you I would drop this book at once, so the end does not finish you.

With all due respect, Lemony Snicket.

Comment:  The End is the 13th and final volume in the wildly popular Series of Unfortunate Events that Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, began in 1999 when he first introduced the three Baudelaire siblings: bookworm Klaus, inventive Violet, and razor-toothed baby Sunny; and their vile enemy Count Olaf.  Like the other volumes in the series, Snicket opens by warning readers to please read no further, which of course, merely serves to lure his many pre- and early-adolescent fans who appreciate his gothic humor to keep turning the pages, which are filled with the usual blood-curdling terrors and  cleverly introduced vocabulary lessons.

Some early reviews for The End comment that the story ends rather suddenly without any real conclusion; don't be put off by these reviews which are based on reading an unfinished copy of the book.  Wanting to give reviewers a chance to read the final volume but also wishing to maintain the suspense, the publisher sent advanced reading copies to reviewers but purposely did not include the last two chapters. Unfortunately, a few of the early reviewers did not pick up on this all important detail when writing their reviews!

A number of adults I've spoken to have skimmed one or more books in this series and have come away wondering what the fuss is about.  I must admit I felt the same way until a car journey a few years ago when we listened to one of the earlier volumes read by Tim Curry (who narrates the whole series).  All of a sudden, the humor and pacing made perfect, and very humorous sense, and I've been a fan ever since. 

When asked whether it bothers him that for the foreseeable future he'll be identified as Lemony Snicket first and Daniel Handler second, Handler replies: "The success of the Snicket series allows me to write full-time, in a house with a view of the sea. This is no bother at all. Besides, it’s nice to hand over my credit card and attract no notice whatsoever."

"It is natural now to wonder how some people can do terrible things, how we can stay strong when something terrible could happen to us at any moment, whether it is right to inflict horror on other people because it has been inflicted on us. The answers are unlikely to be found in stories that ignore rather than acknowledge these questions." . - Daniel Handler writing in the New York Times ~2001.

Did you know?

  • Handler was born in 1970 and brought up in San Francisco. He is an alumnus of the San Francisco Boys Chorus, and Lowell High School. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1992 with a double-major in English and American Studies. He studied writing with Kit Reed and the work of Vladimir Nabokov with Priscilla Meyer and says that all three had an "enormous influence" on him.
  • He is married to Lisa Brown, a graphic artist, who he met at university. They live in an old Victorian house in San Francisco overlooking the sea and have one son, Otto, born in 2003.
  • His parents met at the opera, but his mother is not an opera singer as has been widely reported due to a misinterpreted joke he made in an early interview. His mother, Sandra Handler used to be the dean of City College of San Francisco. His father was a CPA, who fled Germany as a a young boy; Handler says "I knew about the Holocaust at an earlier age than most people learn about it, I think, and so the idea that the world could suddenly go very wrong, and that it had no bearing on what sort of person you were, sunk in pretty early. And it's affected my politics and my writing and my life."
  • He says that the Lemony Snicket series is in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights. He also says that the books follow the great Jewish traditions in that the Baudelaire orphans behave well and bravely because it's the right thing to do, not because they'll get ahead; as he says "Judaism doesn't really promise any reward, they just emphasize that good behavior is more or less its own reward, "
  • He was raised as a Reform Jew "with a few sidetrips into the Conservative movement when deemed necessary" and describes himself as "a cultural Jew for the simple reason that I'm not a religious anything."
  • When asked to comment on the success of the Lemony Snicket series, he says "I find it mind-boggling.....I think I got lucky -- there's not really a trick to getting published. Everybody knows how to do it. You find an editor who likes your work. There are plenty of good things that don't get published and there are plenty of bad things that do."
  • He is politically active and helped form LitPAC, a political action committee that assists liberal candidates.
  • Before hitting his stride with the Unfortunate Events series he was "a bookstore employee, cocktail pianist, cater waiter, bartender, dance accompanist, something roughly approximating a butler, radio script writer, movie reviewer, manuscript summarizer and freelance complainer."

This review is from the December 6, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



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