I’m not sure if you are aware, those of you who are tuning into my blog, but Daniel Handler is the guy behind those Lemony Snickett stories. This was actually an assigned book for class, so hopefully that doesn’t make my review any less valid. The class was “Intro to Narrative” which I took for my Creative Writing degree. Daniel Handler is actually from SF, so that is really cool that he could come into our class. I have to say that I did love the style of writing. Handler took a bunch of objects and created this awesome story about why this couple broke up. As you would expect, there was a lot of sarcasm and the tone was very … poignant throughout the piece. “But we never did, did we? Here it is undeveloped, a roll of film with all its mysteries locked up. I never took it anyplace, just left it waiting in a drawer dreaming of stars. That was our time, to see if Lottie Carson was who we thought she was, all those shots we took, cracking up, kissing with our mouths open, laughing, but we never finished it. We thought we had time, running after her, jumping on the bus and trying to glimpse her dimple through the tired nurses arguing in scrubs and the moms on the phone with the groceries in the laps of the kids in the strollers.” I really liked the line, “we thought we had time” because essentially it’s about time lost and how she is never getting that time back. I have never been in a relationship but I’m sure you would have a box of things, of memories, that would either be kept or thrown away at the end of the relationship. From the lecture when Handler came into class, we learned that the drawings were done first and then the story. Which was an interesting concept because in picture books, the story goes before the illustrations. There was a few ordinary things that were made into a thousand words. There is one picture of a rubber band in here which you know, is such an ordinary object. But it holds all this memory for this couple.
So for a rating I would say… you really have to read this one. If you are stuck inside on a rainy day, I highly recommend this book.
What I learned from reading this book is that the little things do matter, in the sense that they can tell a story. That rubber band was so ordinary but Handler totally made it into this great story that captured both the love and the breakup in a way that I was engaged in the story. As a writing exercise, I would suggest taking a few household objects and writing a story in which your character can relate to and how this connects them to another character. Have there be both happy and sad memories with the object. And see if you can make the object seem like a character within itself… if that makes any sense.
Thanks for reading today’s review. Hopefully they get better as time goes on.