You cannot begin to imagine my elation when I opened up the Diamond in
the Window e-mail account, clicked on the new e-mail, and saw "My book
is free? Lock it up at once!" —Lemony Snicket.
Diana loved these books when she first
encountered them. LOVED. She got immediately the perfect silliness, the
excellent diabolical-ness (?), just everything about them. We went on
to enjoy The Unauthorized Autobiography (my favorite image is the cow
disguise) and The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming (a truly excellent
choice for those of you looking to purchase the perfect hanuka book for
a discerning 10 year old). There was even a brief, though somewhat
disappointing, visit to an opera for which he wrote the book.
And there was, too, the cherished (for me) moment when we were in Diana's 2nd grade parent-teacher conference, discussing her writing, which was a little…strange. Her teachers (who were both amazingly excellent both as teachers and as people) were puzzling over what was going on with it, when it came to me in a flash: she was channeling her version of Snicket. I told them this, and they said "That's not a good influence for her writing," and I said, in one of my very few moments of clarity as both a mother and a reader, "You don't choose your influences. They choose you." For those of you who have read the excellent Habit of Being, the letters of Flannery O'Connor, note this:
"Which brings me to the embarrassing subject of what I have not read and been influenced by. I hope nobody ever asks me in public. If so I intend to look dark and mutter "Henry James Henry James"—which will be the veriest lie, but no matter. I have not been influenced by the best people….The rest of what I read was Slop with a capital S. The Slop period was followed by the Edgar Allan Poe period which lasted for years and consisted chiefly in a volume called The Humerous Tales of E.A. Poe. These were might humerous…This is an influence I would rather not think about….But always the largest thing that looms up is The Humerous Tales of E.A. Poe. I think he wrote them all while drunk, too."
I find that so delightful.
So what occasioned this e-mail? The first book of the series, The Bad
Beginning, is now available online. So those young 'uns who weren't
around during the first round can get a delicious taste. No doubt, like
crack dealers, the publishers are hoping your child will become
addicted and you will be forced to purchase the supply from here on in.
Even so, there are only 13 books, and it's hard to think of more
satisfying contraband. You can find it here.
I had begged (maybe even badgered) Diana to write this post for me. I
told her: but you're the biggest fan! She said yes, then no, then
hemmed, then hawed, tried to get me to ask one of her friends, then
finally said what I think was really getting to her: Mommy, I'm not
From a child who is somewhat grudging in doling out the respect, this is really something.
So go, read, enjoy. You'll thank us.