I love reading. I wouldn’t have done nearly as well at school
and uni if I hadn’t read so much. I had friends and whatever, but books are so
much better. There’s something about the actual process of reading that expands
your mind so much more than just watching a film or playing a video game (although
I love and see all the benefits of those activities too).
I’m not a scientist but I’m sure escaping into a book is great for your mental health. Even before
I knew I wanted to be a writer, I knew reading was the shit. I haven’t always
been good at keeping up with reading – there was a long time during school and
the beginning of uni where I was too drained by all the boring academic reading
that I didn’t want to do the fun rewarding reading. But I’m back at it now, and
I credit Gone Girl for reinvigorating
me back in 2014. Thanks Gillian Flynn, I needed it.
Anyway. A Series of Unfortunate Events. My mum, a high school
teacher, borrowed the books from her school library for me when I was still in
primary school. This was around the time the film was released. I remember
previously seeing the books at the shops and being scared but intrigued by the
creepy illustrations and, I suppose, the whole concept. Upon reading, though, I
was hooked, and discovered quite quickly that they were disturbing but also
hilarious. Lemony broke all the storytelling rules I had come across in my
eleven or so years. He spoke to the reader, he interrupted the story with
extraneous information, and he was even apart of the story! Even as a kid, I
just got it, you know, I understood hoe we was playing with the reader and the
format and I loved it, even if I didn’t always get all the references. I felt
so adult realising the tricks and working out the Olaf-in-disguise plot format.
It was all so over the top in its doom and gloom and I thought it was great.
When Lemony told me to stop reading but I did anyway, well, wasn’t I the
rebellious youth? And when I found out Lemony Snicket wasn’t even a real guy,
his name was actually Daniel Handler? Mind blown.
My love for the series inadvertently led to my first
interaction with the underbelly of the Internet – mean commenters. I found a
Lemony Snicket forum online and attempted to enlighten the audience with an
Easter Egg I had found. One day, in a moment of superb detective work, I
realised the final illustration of each book included a hint regarding the plot
of the upcoming instalment. I raced to the computer and breathlessly alerted
the forum community to my discovery. However, I soon discovered this
information was well known to everyone except me. In turn, I also discovered
the nastiness of some people as I was mercilessly mocked for my ignorance. I
mean, I was stupid but I was eleven. You’re supposed to be an idiot. I swore
off forums and still to this day, over a decade later, have a bad taste in my
mouth about the whole affair and rarely comment publicly on the internet, which
proves I am very grown up and have dealt with it.
Luckily, the whole debacle didn’t put me off A Series of
Unfortunate Events for good. The movie came out and it was fine but I knew it
wasn’t quite right. I’ll revisit it some day.
One day at uni I happened upon The Basic Eight, Daniel Handler’s first amazing novel. I read Why We Broke Up, which is easily my
favourite YA book around the same time. My admiration for Handler grew.
And now the Netflix adaptation of the Unfortunate Events books is out. And I’m hooked again. What a ride.
What a feeling, seeing your childhood imagination come to life. What a singular
vision, a totally unique world. I haven’t thought of much else since devouring
all eight episodes in a few days. It isn’t perfect but it is spectacular.
I was worried about Patrick Warburton as Lemony but he’s
turned out to be my favourite part of the whole show. His integration in the
show is something I’ve never really seen before. It’s as impressive to me now
as Lemony talking to me on the page was fifteen years ago.
I know realise the series is not about unfortunate events, or
useless adults, or a hopeless world, as some reviewers have stated. It’s
actually about wonderful, brave, resourceful kids. Of course they’re placed in
a story where they have to use all their ingenuity to survive. If they lived in
a happy carefree world, they wouldn’t seem so amazing.
My beautiful and thoughtful girlfriend Senaai also loved the
series growing up and bought as the box set of the novels for Christmas. I
can’t thank her enough because I’ll be reading them all again ASAP. Like the
Baudelaire’s, I love to read.