April 24th, 2006
Right after we finished taping my interview with "Lemony Snicket" creator Daniel Handler (tonight at 7:30; repeated on Friday night at 10:30), my makeup artist, Kadidja Sallak, said to me in her charming, complex accent (she was born in Morocco and grew up in France): "It was like two of you talking to yourself!" Which was a nice compliment -- but really, it was more like one of me having a great time trying to corral a compulsively discursive writer; in the chaotic swirl of events, we must have seemed to blend together sometimes. (He was the one who maintained control of the accordion.) It felt like being a rodeo performer, but without the bruises.
This episode is a miraculous reanimation of a show that has aired before -- meaning that now, unlike when it first ran, you can go the bookstore and find Handler's new novel for adults, Adverbs. Or you can just go to the book's link at the online store of Cody's Books -- a visit that will yield at least two delights. One: In a wonderfully Handlerian mix-up, on their website the novel's cover (at the time of this writing, at least) has accidentally been replaced by the one for Rescuing Your Teenager from Depression. Two: You get to read the dust-jacket copy, which runs as follows:
I am Daniel Handler, the author of this book. Did you know that authors often write the summaries that appear on their book's dust jacket? You might want to think about that the next time you read something like, "A dazzling page-turner, this novel shows an internationally acclaimed storyteller at the height of his astonishing powers."
"Adverbs" is a novel about love -- a bunch of different people, in and out of different kinds of love. At the start of the novel, Andrea is in love with David -- or maybe it's Joe -- who instead falls in love with Peter in a taxi. 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. So is Allison, who is married to Adrian in the middle of the novel, although in the middle of the ocean she considers a fling with Keith and also with Steve, whom she meets in an automobile, unless it's not the same Allison who meets the Snow Queen in a casino, or the same Steve who meets Eddie in the middle of the forest. . . .
It might sound confusing, but that's love, and as the author -- me -- says, "It is not the nouns. The miracle is the adverbs, the way things are done." This novel is about people trying to find love in the ways it is done before the volcano erupts and the miracle ends. Yes, there's a volcano in the novel. In my opinion a volcano automatically makes a story more interesting.
(This is just speculation on my part, but I'm guessing that the dust-jacket copy for Rescuing Your Teenager from Depression reads somewhat differently.)
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