Sunday, June 9, 2024

A Review of "And Then? And Then? What Else?" by Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket


Given he has previously penned a series of four books called All the Wrong Questions, it’s not surprising author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) would suggest he relishes the frisson of being wrong. He writes: 

That light dawning, that small but potent vertigo as a beautiful idea, taken for granted, falls apart in one’s mind, feels so very essential to the enterprise of literature, not only writing it but reading it and living in a world in which it is written and read. It’s a ticket, being wrong, not only a citation but a way of gaining entrance to something more marvelous and exciting for my not knowing at all what it really is. 

Readers who opt in by picking up his latest, And Then? And Then? What Else? will get to spend 200 pages and change frolicking in Handler’s mind as he struggles to figure out what it really is. It’s a bit of a genre-buster, this book, a sort of memoir in which he’ll do infuriatingly vague things like talk about his time in college without naming where he went (Wesleyan, if you’re interested), describe in detail how he writes while shying away from the writerly phrase process, and lean in to a tradition of many before him, from Didion to Orwell, from David Foster Wallace to Zadie Smith, examining the peculiar compulsion that leads anyone to put words together, thereby, perhaps, helping you do the same.

Care to read the rest then do so at the California Review of Books.

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