Handler with Care

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Handlerian mix-up, on their website the novel's cover (at the time of this writing, at least) has accidentally been replaced by the one for Rescuing Your Teenager from Depression.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:

Hello.

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.)

Entry Filed under: tv episodes

4 Comments

  • 1. Karen Durrant  |  May 23rd, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    Dear Mr. Kornbluth,

    I watched the amazing episode in April with Daniel Handler, and was wondering if you have a transcript available? My sons are in the San Francisco Boys Chorus, and the Chorus would love to have the quotes Mr. Handler stated about his experiences with music, operas, and the SF Boys Chorus. They have asked me to see if I can get this information for their newsletter for families, since I saw your show and informed them about it. You are doing a great job, and it was a refreshing change to come across your show! We are now big fans.

    Thank you,

    Karen Durrant

  • 2. Josh Kornbluth  |  June 19th, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Karen, thank you for your wonderful words! To my knowledge, there are unfortunately no transcripts available of our show — but you can watch any episode online by clicking on the “WATCH” button at the top of this page. (By the way, I’m a former choirboy myself!)

  • 3. Merima  |  February 12th, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    Hey Daniel,
    Your books are cool and everything but the last one personally stank. You kept talking about a peel of onions and how similar it is to the Bauldelerais. I hope in the future you talk about the characters more. :)

  • 4. Mariah  |  November 13th, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    your seriese of unfourtunate events novels are wickedly(meaning of course , interesting with a darkend twist) unique! The crude humor and suspence are soooo needed to create an introvant teen turning pages …again and ect. It is somthing some other writer should have cratiqued upon years ago…all the other novels for teens are either pointless ,trivial or uninteresting things like happiness ,losing your ….or it seems lust!!!!! I am a 9 th grader , by the way and soon would like to be a song “slash ” teen writer…….when I am a lot older!!!!!!!


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