I'm wanting to be clear... I'm implying that the ASOUE and ATWQ story didn't actually happen in the PFB universe. They are just fictional stories from Lemony's point of view of the PFB universe.
Hmm, I can see good reasons to think that ASOUE and ATWQ are fiction in the PFB universe. The line that comes to mind is the one about how we "wish" or could "pretend" that we all belong to the same organization. Also, I thought the narrator's attitude towards his past books was more Handler-esque than Snicket-esque, and of course, Handler's books are fiction. I think it would create too much discontinuity, though, if it turned out ASOUE and ATWQ were fiction. It would undermine too much of the world. Although I think all the books can work together and be "true," if anything, I'd be more inclined to think PFB is fiction in the ATWQ universe.
Yes - so much Handler! I read some of the lines as he's said them in interviews. The geographical references, too, seemed to place us in San Francisco. I wonder how much the PFB style will be replicated in the memoir.
The book was definitely frustrating as it went along. I'm not worried that L didn't die; I'm not worried that he was never really in danger. The conclusion seems to me a nice twist, and something that could happen (and as an Old person, I am in a position to know); snd it introduces a point of philosophical significance. But it was weird that throughout the book there was so little sense of danger. When I first heard the plot, I was reminded of the episode in TGG where Sunny is dying, and there's a strong sense of urgency there; here there isn't; Lemony does not seem deeply worried. I thought he was going to go round the places where he got the food in a serious effort to detect what the source of the poison might be; he tries this, briefly, with the honey, but then is fustrated a couple of times, gives up, and decides this is a good moment to go swimming. The truth, I think, becomes clear at the end; Lemony has already achieved calmness in the face of death, which he was expressing when he wrote 'You had poison for breakfast' in the first place. As Rabbi Bligh said, eventually we're all going to die, and it's good to listen to rabbis. But before that point it's a bit of a puzzle what is happening.
I had the same frustrations throughout the book. I think his decision not to go to the hospital requires some suspension of disbelief (the reason Lemony gives is that he wouldn't be able to or didn't want to answer their questions?). And from there, the lack of urgency becomes only more bewildering. I like your point that "Lemony has already achieved calmness in the face of death" - I think this point does resolve some frustrations, since we can believe he didn't rush to solve his murder due to his own belief that his time had come, or something like that.
Hmm, I can see good reasons to think that ASOUE and ATWQ are fiction in the PFB universe. The line that comes to mind is the one about how we "wish" or could "pretend" that we all belong to the same organization.
Ah, you have found the most disturbing line in the book. I think there is a way round it though.
Although I think all the books can work together and be "true," if anything, I'd be more inclined to think PFB is fiction in the ATWQ universe.
Oh I like that theory. As are The Lump of Coal etc., of course.
(I've been reflecting lately on the fact that Kit's favourite book is The Lathe of Heaven. But that suggests, not two disitnct universes, but one universe whose contents are not entirely stable.)
Yes, he's definitely the author of ATWQ given the explicit reference to ?3, and the author of ATWQ is the author of ASOUE given the references to the ASOUE characters and so forth.
I'm wanting to be clear... I'm implying that the ASOUE and ATWQ story didn't actually happen in the PFB universe. They are just fictional stories from Lemony's point of view of the PFB universe.[the/div]
What an odd idea. Why would you think that?
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
Post by Terry the Cat on Oct 4, 2021 17:39:25 GMT -5
Finally got the book (won't bore you with the frustrating details of delays) and read it. This really doesn't feel like a novel, and - echoing what I see Sherry and Hermes having mentioned - I often just imagined Handler as the narrator rather than Snicket... I only did the latter when he specifically mentioned something pertinent to Lemony. It made me question the necessity of this being a Snicket book a few times, but ultimately didn't feel it was a big deal either way.
The simple structure of the story (or its "plot") reminded me of a picture book, in that you kind of know what the journey will look like going in - i.e. we'll move from station to station on his list of breakfast foods. (Although the amount of times his breakfast list is repeated like some kind of poem seemed excessive - a bit like filler at such a short length of the book.) This results in the complete lack of tension that Hermes has mentioned, but I mostly accepted it once it seemed like this is what it was going to be. Of course, at some points I would still shake my head and think "What are you doing, you may have been poisoned!".
Once I accepted this part, though, it read like an interesting, at times poetic long-form essay that I enjoyed. Especially as someone who is in kind of a lonely place right now, at least mentally, I found comfort in the passages towards the end, especially the line "The loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you're never going to see again." Idk why, but it resonated with me, especially as it was framed in the book.
The stuff about bewilderment - i.e. the point of the book - was interesting enough, but felt a bit like deja vú if you're a fan who has seen/read many interviews with Handler. (Similarly the three rules of writing I've seen him mention in an article before.) The shoemaker emerged as perhaps the strongest thread for me, despite how little we get to hear about her.
Chapter 7 was the weakest one for me. While I really liked the run-down of "Sinnerman" (esp. with Nina Simone being one of my favorite musical performers and my favorite female singer), I didn't feel he managed to connect it well with his observations on capitalism via the supermarket. That whole part felt more disconnected from the rest than the other flights of Snicket's thoughts in the book.
A word on the illustrations: I thought they were serviceable if unremarkable, but perhaps that's what this kind of book needed... Something that stood as little in the way of the text as possible. The illustrations for Chapter 7 (wheat) and 9 (pears) are quite elegant, though.
- I still have to read Hermes' thoughts in this thread, so may return with more of my own.
- I really liked the writing in the "Closed Around the World" passage in Chapter 4 (pp.50ff). Wistfully witty in that Snickety way.
- On p.57 I was surprised that Vilem Flusser's Vampirotheutis Infernalis was not mentioned, because it's a book I discovered through Handler's twitter a couple years ago... That book is also (partially) about how humans aren't necessarily the highest form of life on earth.
- Daniel Handler and I have pretty much the same attitudes towards eggs and their preparation. Only thing is that I've never had baked egg. But a good medium boiled egg for breakfast (or two) with toast and green or black tea with honey and lemon is one of my favorite things in life.
- It's pretty neat when someone describes a movie and you slowly realize you've seen the movie just going by their description of the plot. This happened to me with Snicket describing the start of the movie "Midnight".
- I like that Handler added the "Notes" appendix so that I don't have to make a "Reference guide" thread this time around.
Somebody help me: What movie mentioned in chapter 4? Is there such a movie in real life? The film about the young woman who pretends to be a baroness...
Yeah, it's in PfB's Notes at the end: "Midnight" from 1939. I mentioned remembering having seen the movie in my previous post, right above yours. The movie is quite a good comedy; Co-written by Billy Wilder, so you can expect quality.
:: Part of Terry's Terrific Profiles Retrospective(TM) 2012-2022 ::
Started and finished the book today! I was shocked when I read "thats not how the story goes," I also liked the vague references to his V.F.D. past. Did anyone else notice the use of the word "bear" instead of "bare" in page 74? In page 115(I think) I found it creepy he spelled "errer" like how I spelled "wourds" before for comedy purposes. I wonder if this librarian is the same one from The Hero of the Story, because they are both females, and he says they are his favorite librarian. I for some reason enjoyed Lemony Snicket going around town, visiting common places.
Post by Mr. Esox Lucius on Oct 13, 2021 14:32:55 GMT -5
In chapter 5, I think this Lemony's fictional inspiration for the creation of Olaf's disguise in TAA. A man wearing a turban who tricked him a few times.
I believe that all the experiences Lemony claims to have had here which we read about in other books, are literary experiences experienced by Lemony.
Chapter 8 we find the fictional inspirations for Lemony to think of goats and cheesemakers.
Lemony's love of libraries in order to include them in all asoue books is highlighted in chapter 11.
Every morning they would walk together around the grounds of the prison camp, the shoemaker told me, under the watchful eyes of the guards, and here it is necessary to tell you why I call this friend a shoemaker. It was not, for most of her life, what she did for a living. But she was good with her hands and could fashion all kinds of ingenious fixes at the camp, with the meager materials which were around. The guards had noticed this, and asked her to fix their shoes, which had been torn and tattered during the rough winters."
A woman with the ability to fix things even in difficult situations and who went through the pain of the death of a loved one. I can see an inspiration for Violet here.
Please pay attention to this phraseology, to realize that in fact PFB takes place in a universe where asoue and ATWQ are fiction books:
This is how I write. I think of the finished book, such as the one you are now holding in your hands, as a little animal, doing its specific animal tasks: making little noises, pecking at something on the ground, and interacting with other animals in the barnyard of literature... That egg, my final manuscript, comes from an earlier draft of the book, which is typed up and then covered in scratched-out phrases and added paragraphs and big curvy arrows moving parts of the book from one place to the other, my pen clucking and squawking all over this chicken of a draft. There are several more drafts before this one, like another egg and another chicken and so on and so forth, as I decide what to put into the story, and what to leave out...
Before these previous drafts of this book are various ideas for what the book might be. I write down these ideas in a notebook I keep with me, but not always. I have instructed myself, over and over, to keep my notebook handy at all times, but if you told me to describe myself in one word, it would be “not very good at following directions...
There are so many objects that I find that I have forgotten about until they are in my hands again, and they remind me of times in my life I had otherwise forgotten, the way you will visit a place you think is new and then something, a sound or smell or some tiny detail, will make you realize it is familiar after all. It is even like that with books. I have not forgotten any of my books, but sometimes when I open one up—Shouldn’t You Be In School? for example, or 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy—I cannot believe that it is my own work, that it came from a finished manuscript which came from a draft which came from another draft which came from an idea on a scrap of paper which came from my hand, and now here it is, a finished book, coming home to roost in the mind of whoever might read it.
There is clearly a description of the creative process of a fiction author here, with two of the works of fiction mentioned by name. One of the works of fiction cited belongs to ATWQ. This makes ATWQ and ASOUE, which are part of the same universe, something fictitious in the PFB universe.
Post by Mr. Esox Lucius on Oct 13, 2021 16:12:28 GMT -5
What are my general opinions about the book: I really liked it. It helps me to better understand the character inside Daniel Handler's mind called Lemony Snicket. This book made Lemony Snicket so much more real to me, and it made me dream of the person I imagined Daniel Handler to be. I would really like it if Daniel Handler had the personality that Lemony Snicket has in this book. But Daniel Handler is much more like bear than the fictional author of PFB.
I think trying to place this fictional author literally inside the universe of asoue spoils the experience of both asoue and PFB. In PFB we follow the thoughts of a fiction author. Some may wonder why Lemony is the protagonist and not DH himself? The answer, as I said, is that Lemony is not DH. Lemony has another personality. Although PFB's Lemony has opinions and influences identical to those of DH, Lemony presents his ideas in a different way than DH would. Of course, at times it is impossible to separate creator from creature, but at other times it is possible and important to do so.
I can really understand some of this... I wrote a lot less than DH, but I wrote a lot using a character-narrator. We imagine how the narrator feels, what he went through and to what extent we agree with the narrator or not. I would really enjoy reading more of this type of narrative to expand this new universe created by Daniel Handler. It is not an anachronistic universe, nor is it a fairy tale universe without fairies. It's not a universe where animals can be trained to accomplish missions, nor is it a universe where Lemony has a brother and sister killed because of their involvement in a secret organization that fights fires. But it is a universe where there are wars, pandemics, cinema, art, history and many other things that can leave us confused, perplexed and scared... Perhaps there is a better word for this description...