Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

CAUTION: This page DOES contain spoilers, meaning in some cases I reveal things about the books that you might not want to hear if you want it to be a complete surprise! You are warned!

"This book does not appear to be a forgery, which is not to say that the story is true - only that it is accurate. That this book comes from Mr. Snicket is unquestionable, which is not to say that some do not question it."

This is not a volume of the bestselling series; rather, it is supposedly an autobiography about its author, but somehow also unauthorized. Now I don't see how an autobiography can be unauthorized, unless, of course, it is. Mr. Snicket's story appears to have been written without his permission, with many errors and very little actual information, but he has gone over it and made his own comments.

First off, the major error is the fact that on the back cover and in the book, an obituary for Mr. Snicket appears. This, of course, is improper, since he's not dead. (He says so in the book.) The book is arranged to have each chapter covering an important question. However, Mr. Snicket judged all the questions "improper" and scratched them out, then replaced the questions with even stranger questions. Many photographs are included as evidence that contributes to nothing and in fact the people in most of the photographs are unidentified. Songs, clippings, articles, letters, and other evidence from the Snicket file (some containing secret coded messages) are arranged unhelpfully throughout the book.

The book carries a warning that reading the book is dangerous, because someone might be watching you and think you are associated somehow with the author. So, Mr. Snicket kindly provides a reversible cover for the book! If you take the book's jacket off and put it on the other way, the book looks like a very happy children's book called The Luckiest Kids in the World: The Pony Party! Children about the ages of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are pictured happily riding a pony, and false information is made up for an author and an illustrator to make it look like an entirely authentic yet ridiculously sappy book.

Many disclaimers are placed throughout this book to make it more confusing and less than helpful, and great care is taken to reveal absolutely no information about the Snicket/Baudelaire case. To quote the opening of one chapter: "For various reasons, portions of this chapter have been changed or made up entirely, including this sentence." Even the index is self-referential and makes no attempt to help locate information on any given topic.

This book is hilariously funny. Near the opening, you are treated to such strange sentences as "Today was a very cold and bitter day, as cold and bitter as a cup of hot chocolate, if the cup of hot chocolate had vinegar added to it and were placed in a refrigerator for several hours," or this gem, "The day was as normal as a group of seals with wings riding around on unicycles, assuming that you lived someplace where that was very normal."

I was especially amused, incidentally, by the copyright information, which informs you of all the regular "do not copy" warnings but also insists that you do not eat the book without permission, and it informs you that if there are any pictures or illustrations of you in the book, basically you are probably in danger and very embarrassed, but there isn't a thing you can do about it. Though this is not part of the actual series proper, it is an amusing jaunt through a twisted mind (or set of minds, depending on who's saying so), and is all the more delightfully twisted for not having to stick to a readable plot.

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