'Who Could That Be at This Hour?': Lemony Snicket's new book discusses his childhood(Read article summary)
'A Series of Unfortunate Events' author Lemony Snicket's latest book looks back on Snicket's youth.
Who is mysterious childrenâs author Lemony Snicket?
Well, weâre not sure, but we were able to reach Snicketâs representative, writer Daniel Handler, so thatâs something.
Snicketâs new book, âWho Could That Be at This Hour?,â is the first in a planned quartet, titled âAll the Wrong Questions.â It will tell the story of Snicketâs childhood and his involvement with a mysterious organization that played an important role in the âA Series of Unfortunate Eventsâ books.
Snicket is the narrator of the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books, telling the tale of the three Baudelaire children â orphans, whose parents die in a mysterious fire at the start of the books and who are then shuttled from guardian to guardian as the children try to learn more about the truth behind the conflagration â even as he frequently hints to readers at his own involvement in the story and warns them to put the book down before even more sad events occur.
(Also, Snicket is actually Handlerâs pen name, but go with us on this one.)
In the new book, âWho Could That Be at This Hour?,â a young Snicket comes under the apprenticeship of a woman named Theodora and tries to solve a mystery centering on the (possible) theft of a statue called the Bombinating Beast in a town known as Stainâd-by-the-Sea.
Handler says reassuringly that Snicket had written the book âdefinitely of his own free will.â
âIt was written before the âSeries of Unfortunate Eventsâ books and is only being released now, now that it is safe to do so,â he says.
Snicket joins a strange organization in the book which goes unnamed but which âSeries of Unfortunate Eventâ readers might guess is VFD, a group sometimes known as the Volunteer Fire Brigade to which the Baudelairesâ parents belonged. Handler is coy on the question of whether the groups are one and the same.
âIt's safe for you, personally, to assume that,â he says (although he also points out that he will not be around if I later discover that my assumption is wrong).
When âA Series of Unfortunate Eventsâ kicked off in 1999 with âThe Bad Beginning,â the books â which had dire warnings not to read them plastered on their back covers â were unlike just about anything else on the market. (âIâm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant,â begins a letter from Snicket featured on the back of the book.) The series also has plenty of wordplay and literary references, from the Baudelaire childrenâs temporary guardian Arthur Poe to a young island resident they meet named Friday. Handler says he doesn't worry about language going over childrenâs heads.
âIn my time in the children's book industry, I've heard that children will not understand just about anything,â he says.
Snicket has also written other titles unrelated to the âSeries of Unfortunate Eventsâ universe, including âThe Composer is Dead,â a childrenâs mystery set in an orchestra, and three holiday titles, âThe Latke Who Couldnât Stop Screaming,â âThe Lump of Coal,â and âThe Baby in the Manger.â Handler says Snicket chose to set these books during wintertime because of the increased appeal of reading during bad weather.
âDuring the winter months, people like to escape,â he said. âI probably don't need to tell that to someone with a 617 area code.â (Indeed.)
As for Snicket himself, Handler says that while it had been stated in previous author biographies that the writer was on the run from police, all he can say right now is that Snicket is âstill in trouble.â
While actor Jude Law played Snicket in the film adaptation of âA Series of Unfortunate Events,â Handler says that the only resemblance between the two was that âa lot of people have fantasized that he looks like Jude Law."
Handler says he and Snicket have not discussed future plans beyond the projected next three books in the âAll the Wrong Questionsâ series.
âI prefer not to make commitments too far in advance,â he says. âOne of us could get hit by a train tomorrow and it could all be overâŚ but it would certainly make your story more popular.â