105 Ways to Give a Book

The End

The EndI had promised my daughter that after school today, we would make a special trip to the bookstore to pick up the last book in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. But then I saw the book displayed at Target and couldn’t justify a separate trip for a book that I could get while also purchasing a long-sleeve shirt to wear under my new haiku T-shirt and four bags of discounted M&M’s.

And could I really be blamed when I went to get my car inspected and found the book to be the only reading material I had in the car? And really, after giving so much to my family and my work all week long, shouldn’t I rest by taking out some time for me? Say, by reading?

And if the girls are going to go downstairs to play video games, leaving me along with the book, shouldn’t it be expected that I would finish it?

I read the Washington Post review, which I thought was on base in some ways, but not others. The End does not resolve the many loose ends that have been planted throughout the series. Most questions are left unanswered. The author focuses on a review of what has brought us all to this point and on an entirely new Unfortunate Event. Little time is even left to wrap up the story. But he doesn’t intend to give us closure, but to point out how untidy life is, and how many of our own mysteries are left unsolved. The Post reviewer thought this was a cop-out, but I disagree.

Lemony Snicket has given us another whole story, plus the book equivalent of a sitcom clip show. We’re reminded throughout the book of all the other adventures the Baudelaires have experienced. Some mysteries are solved, but most are not. And I, for one, am okay with that.

His writing and storytelling remains strong. His humor catches one off guard, as in this sentence:
Some believe that everyone is born with a moral compass already inside them, like an appendix, or a fear of worms.
And as usual, he sometimes refers vaguely to his questionable past:
Thinking about something is like picking up a stone when taking a walk, either while skipping rocks on the beach, for example, or looking for a way to shatter the glass doors of a museum.
Readers will still have many questions that may find some resolution in the upcoming projects of the author. From the interview in the Toronto Star, a 14-year-old girl, Maggie, is entrusted with some of the interview.
Next May will bring another Snicket title. “Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid” is billed as Snicket snippets taken from “personal papers, conversations at dinner parties and anarchist rallies.”

Trust Maggie to tease out the news that more full-blown Snicket novels might be ahead:

“I already find your interest on such topics to be quite unhealthy. But I do admit that Mr. Snicket has expressed interest in some other cases that may have some overlap with the Baudelaires. But I don’t think you should read them and so I think you should forget that I ever said that.”
There you have it. It’s not over until Lemony Snicket says it’s over.
Bluto: Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Otter: Germans?
Boon: Forget it, he’s rolling.
Bluto: And it ain’t over now. ’Cause when the goin’ gets tough... the tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go!
Sorry, that quote got away from me a bit. I don’t want to give away any of the story or the mysteries of the book. I just want to reassure readers that it’s another great chapter, but perhaps not as final a chapter as we may have expected.

5 comments:

Jen Robinson said...

I am so impressed with the timeliness of your review! I've never gotten past book four of the series, though I'm sure I will eventually. Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I also enjoyed the "nothing is over" quote. And I think that you absolutely deserved to be able to take time out to read the books. They're pretty short books anyway...

Carrie said...

I'm just about to take a dive into this series -- being prompted by recent news articles about The End. (Found you through Semicolon.) I enjoyed your review! Thanks.

Kelly Fineman said...

I haven't managed to pry my copy away from my younger child. Sigh.

I'm looking forward to hearing about the triplets, however, or whoever else it is he may write about. And I'm glad it's not a completely tidy ending -- that would've been such a disappointment.

Nancy said...

I agree I agree I agree!

I was also wary of disclosing the plot, so I stuck to just a few quotes.

But when I say I agree, I mean that I felt fine with it not being tied up in a neat package at the end. It would hardly be right for the last book to be included in the Series of Unfortunate Events if everything ended "happily ever after," after all. Better to have it end with big question marks.

Ooh, and I think the next series would have to be about the triplets, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Great review, MR! I'm posting my daughter's review right now. She was more flumoxed than you were :)