The Barnes & Noble Review
Fans of elusive author Lemony Snicket know he's an addictive combination of Roald Dahl and Edgar Allan Poe. Now, in a wonderfully entertaining and "extremely dangerous" book called Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, we get a peek inside the secret files of this mysterious man, a character whose identity and motives for telling the Baudelaire orphans' tales are just as cryptic as we'd imagined.
Beginning with the book's title, we know we're in for blissful secrecy. Readers are shown pieces of Daily Punctilio newspaper articles, diary notes, letters, movie scripts containing underground codes, meeting transcripts, telegrams, sheet music, photos, and more. They're all quite private and linked to Snicket -- except we're told that everything we read may or may not be true. Put simply, it all surrounds Snicket himself, the Baudelaire children, and Snicket's link to an underground organization called V.F.D., dedicated to recruiting new members and disguising their identities "in order to make sure the world remains, as we say, quiet." Throughout the "autobiography," we learn that any character could be a V.F.D. member in disguise (or even an enemy trying to foil V.F.D. objectives), and we're challenged to piece the story together ourselves.
In true Snicket form, the author's ambiguity is the name of the game. It's a brilliantly planned puzzle. Readers are lured into trying to figure out the true meaning of V.F.D. and why Snicket needs to tell the orphans' story, but do we ever really find out? That's what makes the book so appealing (or appalling). Truthfully, the author is probably off somewhere in disguise, keeping more files of his secret papers or corresponding with organization members. It's wonderful, though, when you're having this much fun. (Matt Warner)
"A certain maniacal glee went into the creation of this archly humorous volume," said PW. "The contents lead readers on a merry goose chase. The 13 (naturally) chapters burst with red herrings, non sequiturs, mysterious letters, diary entries-not to mention fading b&w photographs with captions such as `Total strangers' and `W?H?O?' " Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The official cover of this unauthorized autobiography is brown wrapping paper sealed with brown wrapping tape. The reader is warned that the book is extremely dangerous and told to make use of the book's reversible jacket full of sweetness, light and an erstwhile story about "The Pony Party." Even the official copyright notice is not what one expects¾"No part of this book may be used, reproduced, destroyed, tampered with, or eaten without permission except in the case of brief, possibly coded quotations embodied in critical articles, reviews and subpoenas." With all of its surprising twists and turns, this book feels like a roller coaster ride and leaves the reader a bit breathless and wanting more at the end. An index is included for those serious Snicket students. So many references are made to Mr. Snicket's earlier books that this is probably best read in conjunction with the adventures of the Baudelaire orphans. 2002, HarperCollins Children's Books/HarperCollins,
Janet Crane Barley
Gr 4-8 Beneath a simple, seductive Tyvek cover resembling manila and plain brown paper, snippets of Snicket's life appear in 13 chapters of notes, letters, newspaper clippings, songs, photos, telegrams, screenplay excerpts, steamship tickets, and meeting minutes. Daniel Handler prefaces the material. It is not stated who compiled this information, although there is a speculative tale of how it reached the publisher. Snicket begins with a letter about the inaccurate report of his death published in The Daily Punctilio and comments on a folk song detailing his abduction at a young age by the V.F.D. It is noted that all members of this organization were snatched at an early age, chronicled with black-and-white photographs. Subsequent documents from and about characters in "A Series of Unfortunate Events," such as Poe, Olaf, Esme, and others, may or may not reveal their connection to V.F.D., which is used as an acronym for many different organizations, events, and things. Allusion is made to a solid connection between the Snickets and Baudelaires; clearly they are in imminent danger and in need of the many disguise suggestions provided. The book's high-gloss pages have the look of a scrapbook with many gray pages reminiscent of early photocopies. References are made to Kafka, Fitzgerald, and children's authors. There is a circuitously cross-referenced index. Snicket fans will clamor for this intriguing parody of an autobiography/mystery. -Laura Scott, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.