OK. How do you summarize 170 chapters? Badly is all I can come up with. Tim Curry tries to do it for the first 12 books in 120 seconds on the Lemony Snicket site and I would not attempt to upstage Mr. Rocky Horror Show (who does a great job in the talking books btw).
First off: the books are physically attractive themselves (especially the first editions) with nice binding and raggedly uneven paper. Graphically, the books are delightful as they contain excellent drawings by Mr. Brett Helquist (the illustrator). They also are connected by an ingenious series of letters to the editor by Mr. Snicket to keep the reader interested in what comes next. There are many other amusing things like words repeating for entire pages, pages with pure black on them and fantastic definitions you won’t find anywhere else.
I love the character of Sunny and her unique language: Sunniglish. Seeing her grow up in the books matched the growth of my own kids as I read the books to them over the years.
Probably my favourite moment is the description of how Sunny Baudelaire (the baby) climbs up several stories of elevator shaft in the The Ersatz Elevator using only her 2 sharp teeth (that’s no arms and no legs: just swaying neck action). What an imagination! What a strong neck!
And OK the movie… The movie was better than I expected. Jim Carrey didn’t go as over the edge doing Count Olaf as I expected. It tries to compress the 3 first books into 1 movie but anyone who has read the books will know they change quite a bit. I especially liked the opening and credits and the graphics therein. And if you have the DVD, listening to Daniel Handler’s commentary is way cool and not to be missed.
So … did it work? Did my 3 golbarticles convince you to take a look at M. Handler’s work? There are other sites like this one. There are other works by him too (including The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth and Adverbs). I’ve only read part of the first which is definitely not for kids and not as good as The Unfortunate Events in my humble opinion. It is just too dark for me.
Well. I’ll leave off with one last phrase from the books which describes the effect of Handler’s genius:
The World is Quiet Here