Friday, November 24, 2006

Adverbs by Daniel Handler

My students loved The Series of Unfortunate Events, so when I saw that Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket had written a book called Adverbs (I'm a sucker for a good part of speech), I had to read it.

You can't read this book like you would any other book. I tried to, for the first three or four chapters, and in chapter five, I realized that this book isn't stable. The characters don't stay the same. It's not just that they're dynamic characters, it's that the characters literally aren't the same from chapter to chapter. People who seemed to have something to do with Andrea or David in chapter one don't have anything to do with the Andrea in chapter six or thirteen (I'm making these numbers up--I had to return the book to the library and don't have it on hand to refer to).

I never quite stopped trying to connect one David to another, but everyone started blurring together. The result, other than confusion, is that everyone eventually seemed to be living the same, or at least similar, story.

If you've ever read Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, you know how he retells several stories, and how details change in the retellings. Well, Adverbs is like that but on speed or cocaine or something. The characters live in a topsy-turvy world where half the people are expecting a huge disaster. The characters are, themselves, topsy-turvy. It all makes for a brilliant, if jarring ride.

1 comment:

Lenore said...

I really liked Handler's The Basic Eight and then of course LOVED Lemony Snickett. This one does seem a bit too experimental maybe.