By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
The Snicket books, and the Grimly rhymes for that matter, never explicitly deal with grim reality as reality. They aren’t meant to. Theirs is the realm of satire and irreverence, of Beetle Juice, the Munsters and Charles Addams, where the order of the day is to make fun of death and to make death funny. Grimly’s fly-infested Jumping Joan, for all her moaning, just wants to skip rope. Sure, she’s dead, but she’s not mean, just misunderstood. When Count Olaf holds a knife to earnest little Violet Baudelaire’s thigh under the dinner table, the effect is more frisson than freaky, and it’s a satisfyingly creepy scene. Why do we gravitate to that which scares us? What evil thing will happen next? Like shadows in a kinescope, the books flirt with violence and despair, while keeping true malevolence safely at bay.
Until June 2003, when reality intercedes. Another series of unfortunate events: Jim Carrey signs on to play Count Olaf. Little boys and girls, their hands fluttering over stacks of Snicket books and goth teen Emily’s Nightmare Journal, are driving the market for sardonic books with unhappy endings to unprecedented heights. Rising young screenwriter Jessica Kaplan, who at 15 sold her first screenplay (about a group of high school kids in danger), becomes the youngest person ever to score a six-figure script salary and is asked to write the script for another Handler non-Snicket novel, The Basic Eight (about a group of high school kids who murder their friend). A charmed life, indeed. Then, late one summer afternoon, she boards a plane that crashes into the Fairfax district, blocks away from the high school, and is killed. Her former classmate, Rachel, also an aspiring screenwriter, writes in her online diary: “Could that have been me? What was
I to think of my envy now?” A slippery slope, if ever there was one.
THE SLIPPERY SLOPE (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 10) By LEMONY SNICKET | HarperCollins | 337 pages | $11 hardcoverGRIS GRIMLY’S WICKED NURSERY RHYMES | By GRIS GRIMLY
Baby Tattoo Books | 32 pages | $16 hardcover