In case you missed it, Daniel Handler ‘92 (aka Lemony Snicket) came to Wesleyan last week to speak in promotion of his new novel We Are Pirates. Handler’s visit has been covered by multiple campus publications, and the discord surrounding his visit, in other words, the racist joke he made last year when he was presenting the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature to Jacqueline Woodson, has been dissected endlessly by the press and members of the Wesleyan community. This includes Sonya Bessalel’s ’18 measured and nuanced defense of Handler in this week’s edition of The Argus (seriously go read it).
Provided here are selected questions from Handler’s Wesleying interview with astag_rocky before his lecture in the Chapel (scroll down for these). In addition, we will share one tense moment from a meeting Handler attended with students at Downey House earlier that day:
From the folks at the Russell House Series:
Bestselling author Daniel Handler will read from his new work on Thursday, February 5th, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. in Wesleyan University’s Memorial Chapel, 221 High Street, Middletown, CT. This event is free and open to the public, no tickets required. A book signing will follow the reading and books will be available for purchase at the event. For more information, please call (860) 685-3448 or visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/writingevents.
Daniel Handler’s newest novel is the highly-anticipated We Are Pirates, which Bloomsbury will publish in February 2015 and Neil Gaiman describes as “honest and funny, dark and painful.” He is also the author of the novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, Adverbs, and, with Maira Kalman, Why We Broke Up, which won the Michael J. Printz Honor. His criticism has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Believer.
As Lemony Snicket, he has written the best-selling series All The Wrong Questions as well as A Series of Unfortunate Events, which has sold more than 60 million copies. Snicket is also the creator of several picture books, including the Charlotte Zolotow Award–winning The Dark, illustrated by Jon Klassen, and 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy, illustrated by Lisa Brown.
Date: Thursday, February 5
Time: 8-10 PM
Place: Memorial Chapel
You probably know him better as Lemony Snicket (author of the incredibly successful A Series of Unfortunate Events books), but Wesleyan alum Daniel Handler ’92 has been in the news quite a bit for the past week or two. The downside? It hasn’t always been in the most positive light.
So, let’s break it down.
Lemony Snicket sure knows a thing or two about fear. The mysterious Daniel Handler ’92, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, will be taking over the Huffington Post Book’s Twitter account (@HuffPostBooks) this afternoon from 3:15 PM to about 3.45 PM.
The topic of discussion will be fear. And not just because Snicket/Handler (Snicker?) is sort of a creepy guy. (He did this sort of shindig once before, and the topic was love, strange enough.) He’s releasing a new book this week called The Dark, which sounds just as weird and awesome as all his other books:
Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn’t come into Lazslo’s room. But one night, it does.This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark. With emotional insight and poetic economy, two award-winning talents team up to conquer a universal childhood fear.
This may be your only chance to interact with the otherwise-social-media-absent Snicket. According to HuffPostBooks:
All you have to do is leave your questions about FEAR in the comments below or tweeted at us using the hashtag #AskSnicket. Mr Snicket will start tweeting his advice this Friday, April 5th.
Want to join the coveted ranks of WesCelebs Claire Dougherty ’13 and Daniel Handler ’92? You can start by applying to become a Wesleyan student poet, as Handler did in 1991. Max Bevilacqua ’12 knows how:
Are you a poet? Then apply for Writing At Wesleyan’s Poetry Contest for a chance to become an official Wesleyan Student Poet and for a position on the 2012-2013 Connecticut Poetry Circuit Team!
Submit 5 pages of poetry to the Writing Programs Office (Downey 112) by 12:00 P.M. on Wednesday, October 24th. Note the time: NOON! Wesleyan’s top contenders will become the Wesleyan Student Poets and will be published in the 2012-2013 Russell House poetry pamphlet. One nominee will be selected to enter the statewide competition for the Connecticut Student Poetry Circuit Team, who will read their work at universities across the state.
Monday Wednesday, October 24
Handler: “I’m aware of the fact that I’m a semi-pretentious liberal arts student. I don’t think anything I feel is terribly important to anybody else.”
Continuing our recent slew of notable alumni coverage (never change, Das Racist, Joss Whedon ’87, bear-fighting Vermont governor Peter Shumlin ’79), here’s one I recently stumbled upon in the archives. On February 21, 1992, The Argus profiled a student poet, a senior at the time from California. His name was Daniel, and he had made it to the Connecticut Students Poet reading. He even skipped his Chaucer class to save his raspy voice. Today, he is Daniel Handler ’92—or Lemony Snicket, as the case may be.
“These books are questionable and contain questions.”
Great news for every moderately nerdy 20-something who came of literary age in the early ‘2000s. (Hey. That’s you, broseph.) In between defending Occupy Wall Street, waxing philosophic on literary theory, and jamming with Magnetic Fields, elusive Unfortunate Events-plotmaker and occasional Butts resident Lemony “Daniel Handler ’92” Snicket has somehow found time to—well, write again. And the miserable, disaster-prone world is better off for it.
In fact, a whole series is on the way (though likely not as epic as the last one). This one has an autobiographical focus, and the first volume is on its way this fall:
Publishers Weekly noted today that Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will begin a four-book series by Snicket on October 23, with the release of “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” It’s described as the first in the “autobiographical” All the Wrong Questions series, which will explore Snicket’s youth. The announced printing is a monstrous one million copies.
This is to be Snicket’s first literary venture since concluding the aforementioned series. What remains fairly ambiguous is whether this series will detail Handler’s youth (which likely involves Wesleyan) or Snicket’s youth (which likely does not) or whether there’s even a difference at this point.
“I was puzzled by people’s puzzlement over it, because it seems pretty simple to me.”
Last month Lemony “Daniel Handler” Snicket ’92 joined the laundry list of WesCelebs weighing in on the Occupy Wall Street movement, publishing on the Occupy Writers site a characteristically titled list of “Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance.” The list, which Rachel Maddow describes as “at the same time somehow heartbreakingly earnest and the opposite of earnest,” contains such smartly phrased capsules of timely wisdom as this: “If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.”
This week, Handler appears on the Rachel Maddow show, discussing the list’s genesis while swimming laps at a community pool alongside a wealthy donor who refused to share a lap. On the OWS movement, Handler explains: “It seemed pretty simple to me. [ . . . ] It seemed to me like maybe if I said it in the form with many examples using cake, then maybe people would get more relaxed about it.” Handler also gets a bit WeSpecific in the interview, namedropping Wes sociology professor Rob Rosenthal and giving Wesleyan partial credit for his ease with the Occupy movement: “I grew up in San Francisco and then I attended a snooty liberal arts college, so I’m not afraid of patchouli and people holding signs at all. That’s just been part of my whole life.”
You probably didn’t notice, but just hours ago one of our trained bonobo typists churned out a piece about Amanda Palmer’s current project. In a completely separate Internet adventure, I stumbled upon a December interview with Daniel Handler ’92, another ’90s alum who’s involved in a musical project you’ve likely heard [about] and bears a well-documented fondness for dark humor.
Check out the interview at the well-named Fictionaut Blog, where the Reigning World Champion of Literary Handleage gives short and sweet responses to six questions spanning his current work, the creative process, and why he derives a different kind of pleasure from playing the accordion than writing prose. Here’s a brief snippet on why he thinks the idea of a likeable character is rather silly:
… character is bunk. There is plot, and there is voice, and they conspire to create an illusion we call “literature.” It is a glorious illusion and a compelling one. When a writer tells me they’re worried about a character they usually mean there’s a flaw in the plot, or the prose just isn’t pulling things together.
For more on the writer, the musician (he’s recorded with The Magnetic Fields), and the legend, might I recommend the following: