667 Reviews: Read Something Else Jun 7, 2019 4:45:23 GMT -5
Post by Dante on Jun 7, 2019 4:45:23 GMT -5
Read Something Else:
Collected & Dubious Wit & Wisdom of Lemony Snicket
The lengthily-titled Read Something Else: Collected & Dubious Wit & Wisdom of Lemony Snicket has a strong concept behind it, in that Snicket’s work is famously quotable; his quips and life advice have the magic touch of being amusingly off-kilter or downbeat without losing their essential truth. So it’s no surprise, in the wake of the popular Netflix adaptation of his A Series of Unfortunate Events that has brought Snicket and his work once again to the fore, to see a second compilation of Snicket’s best lines brought to the public’s attention.
I say “a second”, because those of us with long memories will remember 2007’s Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid, and indeed this book originally appeared on retailer sites under the placeholder name “Horseradish Revised Edition”. It would be a mistake, though, to say that the only difference between the two is better marketing – although Read Something Else is done a considerable favour by actually announcing exactly what it is on the cover, while Horseradish is a little more oblique in its presentation. In truth, there’s surprisingly little overlap; both feature an introduction, but Read Something Else exchanges Horseradish’s short story for a chain of quotations disguised as a single piece, for instance – and the selection of epigrams is also considerably refreshed, with the copyright page pointing to All the Wrong Questions, The Dark and The Bad Mood and the Stick as sources, with at least one line from the Netflix adaptation putting in an appearance. Only a few quotations featured in Horseradish make a return; though it must also be said that Read Something Else features far fewer overall, running at only one per double-page to Horseradish’s two. In that respect, despite being slightly longer, Read Something Else comes in at overall less content than Horseradish – but this isn’t necessarily a problem, as Horseradish is somewhat overburdened, while Read Something Else is a much tighter product with more wheat to chaff.
In this respect the text in Read Something Else is enhanced and distinguished by its standout feature, and indeed the biggest point of distinction from its predecessor, in the form of its complementary illustrations. Horseradish’s embellishments stretched to a series of profile photographs of its author which marked the book’s chapter divisions. Read Something Else, by contrast, attaches a unique illustration to all but a few of its quotations, and indeed the two are often integrated into a tailor-made image. The selection is bold, colourful and striking, with an enormous variety of styles from the illustrators employed – many of whom, the book openly admits, are fanartists, with the occasional piece that may even be recognisable to the seasoned browser of such things. The result is that each page feels very much unique, and the book is a genuine joy to leaf through. It’s not a perfect combination, however; sevearl double-page-spread images which integrate the text suffer from being drawn into the centre margins, while a number of pieces of fanart, while unquestionably good, feel like arbitrary choices inserted more for themselves than as a complement to the text.
Overall, though, the book succeeds at what it is aiming to do, and stands strong on its own terms. If it’s a selection of Snicket’s best lines that you want, to browse at your leisure – Read Something Else: Collected & Dubious Wit & Wisdom of Lemony Snicket is what you’re looking for.