If you’ve ever read anything by Lemony Snicket, you probably love him. A Series of Unfortunate Events (soon to be immortalized as a TV series by Netflix) has a fond place in the hearts of many teenagers. And it’s no wonder; Snicket’s brand of dark, clever storytelling is as brilliant as it was unique. He blurred the line between character and author, never once patronizing his young audience. But we’re too old for that stuff now, right? Not quite. If you’re a nostalgic teenage Snicket fan, I’ve got some great news for you: He doesn’t exist.
Okay, okay. It may sound like the Santa talk all over again, but hear me out. Lemony Snicket is simply a pseudonym for Daniel Handler, an author from San Francisco who you probably haven’t heard of. That’s not without reason. The Lemony Snicket persona was a huge part of Handler’s stories. He did interviews as Lemony Snicket, he met fans as Lemony Snicket, he even wrote other books as Lemony Snicket — all to help readers believe in the world he’d created. So much so that Daniel Handler himself became overshadowed.
But, if you want more Snicket in your life, you’re in luck because Daniel Handler is an author as well. Not just that, but under his true name, he’s an author who writes for and about teenage girls — with terrifying accuracy. There is a practical treasure trove of criminally ignored and underrated books out there published under Handler’s name.
The Basic Eight is an excellent example, with all the black humour and tragi-comedy a Snicket fan could hope for. If you’re looking for something less harrowing, try Why We Broke Up. This more recent novel simply recounts the rise and fall of a teenage relationship, but Handler writes with such tender perfection that you’ll feel wholly for the young narrator as she explains point-by-point how it went wrong. All of Handler’s work matches the high standards set by the unbeatable Mr. Snicket. The only difference is, these books are aimed at adults (meaning you can read it on the bus without getting funny looks).
If you need something fun to read for fall, or simply feel a little underwhelmed with what the teenage market has to offer right now, it’s definitely worth giving Daniel Handler a try. His books manage the nearly impossible task of feeling both refreshing and familiar. With his latest book, We are Pirates, out only this year, there’s never been a better time to discover the man behind the man.
(Image via HarperCollins.)