Adverbs

( 13 )

Overview

Can Joe help it if he falls in love with people who don't make him happy? And what about Helena?she's in love, but somehow this isn't enough. Shouldn't it be? And if it isn't enough, does this mean she's not really in love? It certainly seems to be spoiling the love she's in. And let's say there's a volcano underneath the city?doesn't that make things more urgent? Does urgency mean that you should keep the person you're with, or search for the best possible person? And what if the best possible person loves ...

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Adverbs

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Overview

Can Joe help it if he falls in love with people who don't make him happy? And what about Helena—she's in love, but somehow this isn't enough. Shouldn't it be? And if it isn't enough, does this mean she's not really in love? It certainly seems to be spoiling the love she's in. And let's say there's a volcano underneath the city—doesn't that make things more urgent? Does urgency mean that you should keep the person you're with, or search for the best possible person? And what if the best possible person loves someone else—like the Snow Queen, for instance?

This novel may not answer these questions, but nevertheless the author and publisher hope it will be of interest.

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Editorial Reviews

Dave Eggers
“Daniel Handler [is] something like an American Nabokov.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Brilliantly kooky and off-kilter.”
Charlotte Observer
“[Handler] oozes wit and he’s an astute social observer. The book’s offbeat sweetness charms.”
James Poniewozik
What saves Adverbs from Handler's unconvincing dystopian themes is his exuberantly funny voice and his ability to lard his stories with details that return, pages later, with multiplied resonance. Like many a concept album, Adverbs has implausibilities, indulgences and a track list that drags on a few cuts too long. But what stays with you is the music: the elegantly rendered emotion, the linguistic somersaults, the brilliantly turned reminders that there are a million ways to describe love and none of them will ever be the last word.
— The New York Times
Mark Denn
… love is a messy thing. In truth, these stories tell us that love is best understood as neither a noun nor a verb. "The miracle is the adverbs," the narrator says in "Truly," "the way things are done. It is the way love gets done despite every catastrophe." This bracing reality constitutes both the primary strength of Adverbs -- and its intrinsic flaw. The puzzle may never be completed because the pieces cannot all be there, and those that are, hardly ever connect the way we wish they would. But that is life and that is love.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The qualities that draw millions to Lemony Snicket-absurdity, wicked humor, a love of wordplay-get adulterated in this elegant exploration of love. Handler brings linguistic pyrotechnics to a set of encounters: gay, straight, platonic and all degrees of dysfunctional. Amid the deadpan ("Character description: Appropriately tall. Could dress better.") and the exhausting ("Love was in the air, so both of us walked through love on our way to the corner.") are moments of blithe poignancy: quoth a lone golfer, "Love is this sudden crash in your path, quick and to the point, and nearly always it leaves someone slain on the green." In "Obviously," a teenage boy pines for his co-worker at the multiplex while they both tear tickets for Kickass: The Movie. In "Briefly," the narrator, now married, recounts being 14 and infatuated with his big sister's boyfriend, Keith. "Truly" begins "This part's true," and features a character named Daniel Handler, who has an exchange about miracles with a novelist named Paula Sharp. Handler began his career with the coming-of-age novel The Basic Eight; this lovely, lilting book is a kind of After School Special for adults that dramatizes love's cross-purposes with panache: "Surely somebody will arrive, in a taxi perhaps, attractively, artfully, aggressively, or any other way it is done." (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Handler, who as Lemony Snickett writes the "Series of Unfortunate Events" novels for children, returns to adult fiction with this collection of intertwining vignettes about love in all of its adverbial misery. Each piece, with an adverb for a title, focuses on young men and women negotiating the minefields of intimate relationships. People disappear, only to reappear in later stories skewering assumptions that were first developed in the earlier tales. In "Obviously," a young usher has a crush on Lila, whose boyfriend is cheating on her. In "Soundly," Lila appears in a bar, suffering from terminal cancer, having a last good time with her best friend, Allison. In "Wrongly," Allison is driving Lila's car to graduate school when she becomes involved with an unsuitable young man. The stories feature two recurring images: that of the magpie picking up glittering pieces of material and depositing them in other stories, reflecting reality at different angles, and that of a catastrophic explosion-possibly natural, possibly human-made-that destroys everything and everyone in its wake. The stories are clever, unsettling, confusing, and often brilliantly moving. The author's reputation will create public library demand. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/06.]-Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of the popular Lemony Snicket series of children's books puts a playful spin on adult themes of love and lust, showing a narrative ingenuity that should delight readers interested in exploring the possibilities of fiction. The third non-Lemony book from Handler (after Watch Your Mouth, 2000) finds him challenging conventional categories. This initially appears to be a selection of short stories, even parables, with each of the 16 taking a different adverb as its title ("Immediately," "Arguably," "Symbolically" and, as a change of pace, "Often"). Teachers generally instruct fledgling writers to eliminate adverbs whenever possible (only passive verbs suffer from greater linguistic disrepute), yet Handler makes his strategy succeed, frequently putting the titular adverb at the service of a broader theme. In "Obviously," he examines the essence of "kissassedness." "Briefly" is the briefest piece here, and includes the pivotal appearance of a boy's briefs. "Soundly" culminates in a boat ferrying across a sound. And so on. Yet in almost subliminal fashion, the author encourages the reader to make connections between the stories, with the repetition of recurring motifs involving magpies and money, plot lines that seem to leapfrog from pieces at the beginning to ones toward the end and the reappearance of characters (who may actually be different characters with the same name). Even the narrative "I" is suspect-sometimes a man, sometimes a woman. Some might find the key to the narrative strategy in "Truly," which the author characterizes as an "essay" and in which he purports to drop the fictional pretense in favor of straightforward autobiography and explanation of authorial intent.Or is this just another twist of the metafictional maze? Whether one approaches this as a novel (in the loosest sense) or a series of somehow connected stories, Handler's prose is warm, funny, smart and addictively readable. It might even send some adult readers to Lemony Snicket to see what they've been missing. Experimental fiction is rarely this emotionally engaging.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060724429
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/24/2007
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 462,326
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Handler

DANIEL HANDLER is the author of the novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth and, as Lemony Snicket, the bestselling collection of children’s novels entitled A Series of Unfortunate Events, which has sold more than sixty million copies worldwide, has been translated into thirty-nine languages and was adapted into a feature film starring Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep.

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Read an Excerpt

Adverbs

A Novel
By Daniel Handler

Ecco

ISBN: 0-06-072441-2


Chapter One

Immediately

Love was in the air, so both of us walked through love on our way to the corner. We breathed it in, particularly me: the air was also full of smells and birds, but it was the love, I was sure, that was tumbling down to my lungs, the heart's neighbors and confidants. Andrea was tall and angry. I was a little bit shorter. She smoked cigarettes. I worked in a store that sold things. We always walked to this same corner, Thirty - seventh and what's - it, Third Avenue, in New York, because it was easier to get a cab there, the entire time we were in love.

"You must be nervous," she said when we'd walked about two puffs.

"Yes," I said. "I am nervous. I've never been to a reading of a will. I didn't even know they still did things like this, read wills. I thought it was, I don't know, a movie thing. In a movie. Do you think everybody will be dressed up?"

"Who cares?" Andrea said. She threw down her cigarette and ground it out with the heel of her shoe like a new kind of halfhearted dance. "Look," she said, and shaded her eyes with her hand for a minute like she was actually looking at something. I turned my head to see. "I just mean, look," she said, cupping my head with her hand. "The expression I mean. Look, I'm trying to be nice, but I'm scatterbrained right now, if you know what I mean. I'm frightened by yourbehavior. I woke up this morning and you said good morning and I said good morning, what do you feel like doing today and you said well I sort of have to do this thing and I said what thing and you said go to the reading of my father's will and I said what are you talking about and then you told me your dad died. This morning. I mean, he died two weeks ago but that's when you told me. That's when you told me. I'm trying to think that you just must be in shock that your dad died but it's very, very, very, very, very, very difficult."

"He's not really," I said, "my dad."

Three cars went by.

"What do you mean?" she asked. "What are you talking about? What could you possibly mean? He is your biological father and raised you, along with your mother, in the same house, for eighteen years. He carves the turkey at Thanksgiving and when I met him three years ago I said it's so nice to meet your father and he didn't even blink. How can you say that? What can you mean?"

"I don't know," I said, and we reached the corner. The street was a yellow streak, however many yards wide, cabs and cabs and cabs and the occasional car that wasn't a cab so the whole thing looked like a scarcely - been - touched ear of corn. I put my hand up and one stopped. I opened the back door and Andrea just looked at me. I put one knee into the cab, half - sitting in it, almost kneeling as if the cabdriver, whom you'll meet in a minute, had just brought me up curbside to ask this tall angry woman to marry me. She wasn't going to say yes, I realized. She was never going to say yes.

"Why are you acting this way?" she said. "You've never acted this way. Usually you're, I don't know. Usually we're eating at diners and taking money out of our ATM machines, a normal person. What is-"

"You don't have a chance," I said, "to act like this in a diner."

"Please stop," she said. She smeared one finger underneath her eye, although she wasn't crying, just finishing a finger painting of herself. She was done. "This is worse than the last time," she said.

"I think I should go to this thing by myself," I said, and sat more. "I think you should go home to the middle of the block and I'll go someplace in this cab. I'll be back later or something."

"What do you-" She stood on the corner and wiped her eye again but now she was crying. Somehow she was crying by the time we reached the same corner and were almost all the way into a cab. "I'm going," I said, and shut the door. She stared at me through the window like I was maybe nothing. The cabdriver asked me where I wanted to go and I told him Seventy - ninth Street and then I apologized for making him wait like that at the corner and told him I would give him an extra couple of bucks or something. "Don't worry about it," he said, and looked at me in the rearview mirror, a polite smile. His eyes veered off my reflection and onto the reflection of the traffic behind us, so we could merge, and we merged, and that's when, immediately, I fell in love with my cabdriver.

"I changed my mind," I told him. Then I decided I shouldn't tell him, not yet. His cab number was 6J108. His first name was Peter, I saw, and his last name looked like somebody had just dropped their forearm onto the typewriter keyboard, someplace in Europe I guess. "Penn Station. I have to go somewhere." I felt the weight of the lie I had told Andrea, enormous and undeserved, and vowed I'd never do something like that again. But not telling Peter everything that was in my heart wasn't a lie, right? That was just good timing. That was just being sensitive. "I don't have to go somewhere," I said, "not really. But I think I should go somewhere."

"Okay," he said. It didn't make a difference to him, and I loved him all the more for it. We turned left.

"You have pretty eyes," I said.

"Yeah," Peter said. "It's pretty nice. Since they cleaned it up."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Adverbs by Daniel Handler Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2007

    Snicket--er, Handler--strikes again!

    If you are looking for a book with a coherent, straight-up plotline, you might want to look elsewhere. But for the adventurous, these titularly titled vignettes are a breath of fresh air. Some are better than others, but the overall package is truly stunning. Mr. Handler does an excellent job of weaving theme and symbol together in the midst of what could otherwise become nonsense. His voice is wonderfully funny, acerbic, ironic, occasionally verbose, but never dull. Adverbs is truly a great novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2014

    I was so excited to get this book because I am a huge fan of Sni

    I was so excited to get this book because I am a huge fan of Snicket but I was so disappointed by Adverbs. This book changes characters and plotlines every chapter, each chapter is confusing to follow and on top of that it is vulgar and uses inappropriate language throughout. I understand that it an adult novel but I was truly not expecting this in return. Please do a lot of research before buying this book because even if you do love the Snicket books Handler is totally different.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2006

    Great Book

    Daniel Handler has a knack for writing witty stories which connect with the reader. I love this book, and how well it unfolds. Some of his stories are so amazing, his prose is lyrical and cannot recommend this book enough. LOVE IT!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2006

    Wonderfully captivating.

    This book is absolutly fantastic. I have never read such a complex, exciting work of literature. Like seventeen Holden Calfields mingled between the pages. I have a waiting list of friends wanting to read Adverbs. If you are looking for a quick read which actually takes some thinking, this is so the book for you. I hope you choose to read it.

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