DanielHandler Adverbs

ISBN 13: 9780007181285

Adverbs

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9780007181285: Adverbs

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.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

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.

From The Washington Post:

In "Soundly," perhaps the most emotionally resonant of the 17 adverbially titled pieces that make up Daniel Handler's Adverbs, the narrator remembers what her driver's ed teacher once said a car horn should convey: "Not Move along, buddy or I am displeased but I am here. I am here, I am here, I am here!" That teacher has inadvertently offered up the theme of this jigsaw puzzle of a book about lonely people stepping gingerly through the smoldering volcanic debris field of love.

Handler -- better known as Lemony Snicket, the author of the enormously popular kid-lit "Series of Unfortunate Events" -- has given his adult readers a lot to ponder as they flip over these pieces and work to put them together. Within an atmosphere of impending doom, characters step forward with their attendant baggage, introduce themselves and tell us why true love is so elusive.

And the author tells us things, too -- mostly what love is, metaphorically speaking. Love, apparently, is a lot of different things, from saltwater taffy to acts of Camelot-style chivalry. In a devastating piece called "Briefly," a man who accidentally kills a magpie while playing golf recalls the aching memory of a boyhood crush: "Love is this sudden crash in your path, quick and to the point, and nearly always it leaves someone slain on the green."

Readers of Adverbs are asked to make a dizzying number of connections as they move through the process of putting it all together: Characters who appear early in the book return for reprise visits, or perhaps Handler has mischievously reused their names for totally unrelated characters. The author admits as much himself: "At the end of the novel, it's Joe who's in the taxi, falling in love with Andrea, although it might not be Andrea, or in any case it might not be the same Andrea, as Andrea is a very common name."

The connections -- both the obviously purposeful and the bizarrely tangential -- incorporate repeating story elements. Adverbs is teeming with comically named cocktails (Hong Kong Cobblers, Tipsy Mermaids), things avian (eggs, hummingbirds, lost parakeets and Yellow-billed magpies), along with numerous taxis, bars and diners, a ripped purse and a woman known as the "Snow Queen" who can freeze a man in his tracks with her "Cone of Frost." (Did Lemony just skate through?) When Adverbs works, it works brilliantly and poignantly, taking its ruminations on the complexity and fallibility of love to avian heights. In "Soundly," a dying woman and her friend negotiate a desperate turn of events in the twilight hours of their companionship. In "Naturally," a wrenching tale of loss and disappointment, a murdered man finds love after death only to lose it just as mundane folks do. Other pieces work less successfully, some coming off a little too linguistically cute and clever, or too oblique.

In the end, some readers will wonder why these pieces don't all come together in a satisfying way. But 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.

Reviewed by Mark Dunn
Copyright 2006, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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