A Series of Unfortunate Events (Adult Covers) by Lemony Snicket
I remember reading an article a while back about the reason Bloomsbury released “adult” covers for Harry Potter over in England. It was due to customer demand that adult readers were a bit embarrassed to be seen reading “children’s books” around town. Thus, Bloomsbury released non-illustrated versions of the covers that had simple photographs and a more subdued color-palette.
So it got me thinking. What other popular children’s series would an adult be a bit embarrassed to be seen reading in public? And I immediately thought of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. Not only are they covered in (amazing) illustrations on the outside, but have the extra bonus of being a teeny tiny postcard-sized book, telling those on the subway that yes, you read children’s books, and yes, 200 regular-sized pages is where you max out.
With that in mind, I sought to redesign the series for the self-conscious adult. Using the brilliant photography of Rodney Smith, I ditched the orphans on the cover and instead brought the focus of each to that of the illusive Mr. Snicket, observing the events as they happen, later to be retold in his unique prose. His identity in the stories is always in question, as his relationship with the events is shrouded in mystery. Because of this, he remains hidden from view from the reader, even on the cover.
bluebirdsofhappyness said: Now I want to read the Series of Unfortunate Events. :3 lol I never did when I was younger, though I enjoyed the movie.
Ughhh that movie. Don’t get me started on the movie. It’s a cute little thing, sure, but it totally 100% does not capture the essence or tone of the books at all. They had Daniel Handler write (I believe) three different scripts. And they didn’t like them. So they fired him. From his own movie. Personally I just think the only way ASOUE could’ve been a truly successful book-to-movie adaptation is if it were animated in a gothic-style type thing. Jim Carrey is not Olaf. Olaf is ridiculous, yes. He keeps a trunk of costumes to parade around in all the time. He wrote a play called The Most Handsome Man in the Entire World for him to star in, and then wrote a sequel: Why I Believe I’ve Become Even More Handsome! But he’s really, really scary too. He tries to marry Violet for her money by staging a play and having a real Justice of the Peace officiate the in-play marriage, forcing Violet to go along with this by locking her baby sister in a cage from the top of a tower. He murders a few of their guardians, he frames someone else for his crimes, he even attempts to murder the Baudelaires. So, if you haven’t read the books, it’s an interesting movie. But if you have, it’s a failure, probably one of the worst. They crammed three novels into one movie and made it “funny.” A Series of Unfortunate Events is wittier than I think it is funny. You should try the books!
I really, really would. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t reread them since I was younger, so I can’t exactly give you the POV of someone older reading them, but every time I see a line or a page from the series, I’m reminded how brilliant I think Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) is. I admire A Series of Unfortunate Events so much because you’ve get three heroes, each with different skills, that you get to value and root for. You can miss out on that with a lot of other series because there’s one person whose story is being told—here you have the classic orphan tale, but you’ve got it with three incredibly bright kids who find that they have to rely on each other instead of the adults in their lives.
Really I don’t think the books are for children, though they’re marketed that way. It’s a very isolated coming of age tale about—as someone else so eloquently put it—ethical relativism. The Unfortunate Events books take place in a much smaller timespan than most coming-of-age tales, but they’re still forced to do so much growing up and they’re faced with tougher questions and choices. The series is dark. I mean, just in the first book, there was an underage forced marriage plot! Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are shuffled around between inept adults, hoping that each time they’re going to have someone to trust, but they never do. They led a charmed life and then it was ripped from them and they could only rely on each other. In a lot of other children’s books I’ve read, the charmed life happened when they were too young to remember it, or the adventure starts on the premise of something new and good and hopeful (though they battle difficulties and troubles along the way). Here we start at the worst possible event: your parents have died, you have nothing, and then someone is trying to take what little you have left. I don’t even think the Baudelaire’s care about their money that much (which I also admire), Olaf is just determined to get it in a dark and sinister way.
Here’s what I take away from ASOUE: sometimes good people have to do bad things in order to survive or even to protect more people. And that’s confusing. There’s no clear black-and-white good-and-evil, and Violet and Klaus and Sunny struggle with that because they’re still just kids. And then these books probably have one of my favorite morals ever: those who seek out knowledge, who are always trying to learn more by reading or inventing or attempting new skills: those people are going to be the good people.
On top of all that, I’ve never found anyone that writes like Handler. People have tried (I’m looking at you, Trenton Stewart with your Mysterious Benedict Society) but they haven’t matched it. Personally Daniel Handler’s type of humor is my favorite, an of over-the-top ridiculousness with an undercut of sarcasm, but I think he also hits the nail on the head with heart and hope, too.
So: TL;DR: yes. Read them. I love them, and I hope you do too, and if you don’t, at least they’re pretty simple books that are fast to get through. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Also this post does a good summary of why I love Violet so much: http://basic-eight.tumblr.com/tagged/violet-baudelaire
And also, if you like literary references, these books are chalk full of them. That’s what also makes them my favorite.
ALSO I’M SORRY I COULDN’T SUM THIS UP.
|Plot twist:||The sugar bowl actually contains sugar|
The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket
book jokes, book jokes
Seriously, coming up there’s a new book from JK Rowling, an Arrested Development movie, a Series of Unfortunate events prequel, and several sequels to new books I’ve come to devour, on top of being only in the middle of The Hunger Games hysteria. It’s a good time to be part of fandoms.
Hey guys. So I want to talk to you about one of the greatest heroines ever written for young adult literature, and that is A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Violet Baudelaire.
In any discussion of women in YA lit, there are basically three names that come up: Bella Swan (generally derided as weak and useless), Hermione Granger (whom everyone agrees is THE BESTEST!!!!), and Katniss Everdeen (jury’s still out on that one, but the consensus as far as I’ve seen is that feminist bloggers and Twilight haters alike super love her). Violet rarely comes up, which I think is a shame, because I would argue that she’s perhaps better written than all three of those other young women.
Note that I’m not saying she’s a better woman. This isn’t one of those posts where someone tries to empirically prove that this character is TOTALLY BETTER than that character, because I find that sort of thing dull and counterproductive. I’m not trying to pit different ladies against each other, because I’m generally against that sort of thing (though I don’t think having a preference between two female characters or real-life women makes you sexist). This is more of an exploration on how young women are treated in books geared toward tweens, and how we could all perhaps take a lesson from Daniel Handler (a male writer, interestingly enough) in this arena.
The first thing that strikes me when analyzing ASOUE from a feminist perspective is that Violet is, of course, a skilled inventor, a field in which you don’t see many fictional women. A different writer might have stuck to more “traditional” gender roles and cast Violet as the bookish wordsmith and Klaus as the science-minded inventor, but wouldn’t that have been boring, really? The boy tinkers around in his laboratory and invents things that save the day, and his sister occasionally correctly defines a word. Boring. But what’s even more interesting to me is that Violet, despite having tremendous skill in a traditionally “non-feminine” area, is never presented as The Exceptional Woman, which is perhaps my least favorite trope in fiction, one that has ruined countless characters for me (Veronica Mars, Ginny Weasley, River Song). Rather, each of the kids in the book has one particular skill that saves everyone else’s asses at least once, and even among the girls, they’re evenly split between the “feminine” (Sunny the cook, Isadora the poet) and the “masculine” (Violet the inventor, Fiona the mycologist).
Furthermore, her looks are only commented on once or twice, and always by another character — never by herself or the narrator. This is significant. Young women in literature are almost always given a thorough physical description, whether it’s fawning or, more commonly, one of those “So-and-so was hardly beautiful — in fact, she was really rather plain, with boring brown eyes and long dark hair that fell into her face” deals that contemporary authors love. Even in Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, Katniss and Hermione’s appearances are mentioned quite a few times. But in ASOUE, none of the Baudelaire kids are really described in detail, aside from Klaus’s glasses (which are often a plot point) and Violet tying up her hair when she has to think. THIS IS HUGE. I don’t know if I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here, but honestly, it’s so refreshing to see a teenage girl character who isn’t defined in any way by her looks, whether beautiful or exceptionally “plain.” It simply doesn’t matter; she’s got 99 problems but a zit ain’t one. Similarly, while she and Klaus both get romantic subplots with tertiary characters, they never threaten to take over the actual plot. These kids are kind of busy trying to escape a crapton of people who want them dead, and there’s not a ton of time left over to moon over Quigley Quagmire (though I loved their little romance, don’t get me wrong!).
Furthermore, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MORAL AMBIGUITY OF THIS CHARACTER. There are quite a few moments in the books wherein Violet and Klaus discuss whether or not their actions — causing lots of deaths, burning down the carnival and the Hotel Denouement, et cetera — mean that they’re just as bad as the people from whom they’re running. I mean, there have probably been lots of essays written about how smart these books are (come on, it’s essentially a kids’ book series about ethical relativism!) but honestly, how often in the lit world, kids’ or adults’, do you see teenage female characters struggling with these kinds of huge moral issues? Not particularly often, to my knowledge.
This obviously isn’t the most well-written little post and I’m probably going to revise it a bunch of times until it’s actually a smart piece of analysis and not just a FEELINGS GEYSER about a criminally underrated kids’ book series, but for now, I’m just going to post it and that’s that.
The end, but not really.