is there already an official preview of what this book will be about? I'm very anxious ...
Back in 2018 when it was originally announced it had this summary from the publisher:
Is Lemony Snicket toast? Unfortunately, this book opens with some very bad news: Lemony Snicket has been poisoned. He'll have to work quickly to get to the bottom of a sinister plot, or this adventure may be his last. But this is Lemony Snicket, so be prepared for an investigation like no other -- one that will take readers on a bewitching journey through breakfast ingredients and philosophy, existential questions and observations about writing, death and the preparation of a good egg. Hopefully, this witty, inspiring tour-de-force won't prove fatal.
and a Google Books listing also had this brief description:
"Lemony Snicket must investigate his own possible murder by poison after receiving a suspicious note following breakfast".
It's worth keeping in mind that these were both put out months before the book was pushed back and then pushed back again, so there's a fairly good chance it may have been reworked significantly since then.
:Edit: My God, it just sunk in that this book has been delayed by almost three years.
It would certainly be interesting if the final release was so obviously reworked that we could tell just from the early synopsis, but I'm not quite so optimistic myself; I think it's just been sitting in complete form on HarperCollins's servers for the last two years, waiting for a gap in the release schedule when they've decided Handler's uncontroversial again. Regardless, let's just hope it's worth the wait.
Daniel Handler's page on his agent's website has been updated to remove all mention of Poison for Breakfast. (This is the one that, until very recently, was still insisting on a release date of Fall 2019.)
I suspect it has been cancelled. Perhaps VFD decided that there are things too terrible for us to know.
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol.
"The world, no matter how monstrously it may be threatened, has never been known to succumb entirely" - The Little Snicket Lad
To take TheAsh's suggestion perhaps slightly more seriously than it was intended, it would be quite extraordinary if the book had been cancelled. This is a book which Handler talked about openly in appearances, had full listings with a synopsis, and which was officially announced with a release date on one of the publisher's Twitter accounts. This can only have happened if the book was well and truly finished and the publishers had access to its full content. They had to accept the pitch, and their editor worked with Handler on the book. Added to that, Daniel Handler's agency webpage, which provided a source for the delay to 2019, can only be considered highly credible, as can a publisher representative telling me directly about the 2021 delay.
So I think any idea that it was cancelled, either because of its content or because of its author, is inconsistent with the available evidence. I really have very little doubt that we are looking at a string of delays, first as a knee-jerk response to 2018 events, and then because the publisher decided they needed considerably more time to arrange a suitable place in the release schedule and appropriate marketing. In my view, the more disappointing suggestion from all this is that the publishers no longer consider Lemony Snicket a priority author - though even then, it's possible that they intend this to be a relaunch and need time to arrange for appropriate pomp and ceremony.
I'd be more concerned about printing facilities, personally; and certainly the concept of "hitting store shelves" is not what it was. Normal publicity measures have gone out of the window. However, there are other aspects of the book industry which are comfortably compatible with working from home, and agents are reporting a surge in submissions.
Of course, in this particular case, I remain relatively confident that the book was already complete and is just sitting on a server. We cannot know for certain because all is speculation on exactly what's going on with the book in the first place. In the short term, probably the best we can hope for is for somebody to finally ask Handler about it.
I think Amazon Canada was previously listing the book for September 2021, on the grounds that that's still when it's listing its Kindle edition for. The new date is even more obviously a placeholder date, but I wonder what threshold was reached for the site's systems to kick it back to the next year. Most other Amazons haven't bothered to revise the date again after the first revision, which I take as simply indicating that they have no new information whatsoever.