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Jewish Journal

‘The End’ is nigh for Lemony Snicket

by Gaby Friedman

October 19, 2006 | 8:00 pm

What will Lemony Snicket do now? And who is Beatrice? These are the questions that are setting children abuzz -- a word which here means "something that everyone is talking and guessing about," -- now that "The End" (Harper Collins), the final, 13th book of 13 chapters in Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," hit bookstores on Oct. 13, which happened to be a Friday. 0 Accompanying the publication of "The End" is an epistle collection called, "The Beatrice Letters," which are letters from Snicket to Beatrice and vice versa. Beatrice is the mysterious woman to whom Snicket has dedicated all of the books, with inscriptions like, "For Beatrice -- No one could extinguish my love or your house."

Snicket is not only the author, but also the narrator of this very funny and literate series, which chronicles the lives of the tremendously unfortunate Baudelaire orphans. The orphans' lives go from bad to worse -- a phrase that here means "nothing good seems to happen to them even though they are all very clever and plucky and are the inheritors of an enormous fortune," -- after their parents die in a fire.

In "The End," the Baudelaires are washed up on a desert island, where they meet a community of fellow castaways, including the leader Ishmael ('Call me Ish'), a young orphan named Friday and a Rabbi Bligh, who is something of a philosopher. There they learn more about their parents, and some of the mysteries that have hooked more than 50 million readers onto the series are solved.

Daniel Handler -- the actual writer behind the shadowy Snicket -- said in an interview that he included Bligh because "it is often handy to have a rabbi around," and that the books' themes of misery multiplied had an antecedent in his Jewish heritage and his background as the son of a Holocaust survivor. "I think a general theme of suffering without good reason is a mainstay of Jewish culture," he said. "I got a taste of that early and continuously."

After talking to Handler, The Journal was lucky enough to catch a few words with Snicket himself, who said that though he plans to produce more work, whether we see more of him or not "will depend on whether you will walk in while I am in the bath."

Lemony Snicket, also known as Daniel Handler, will be appearing at Sinai Temple 10400 Wilshire Blvd., on Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.

For more information, call 310-659-3110, or visit www.lemonysnicket.com

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