Monday, February 5, 2007

For Crying Out Loud: A Reading by Lemony Snicket

By Lisa M Pirlot, MLIS

“This is the end, Beautiful friend, This is the end, My only friend, the end” – The Doors

I feel obliged to begin with a word of WARNING:

Do not expect this to be an uplifting, jubilant communication extolling the virtues of our latest iServe event.

Instead, I hope it will prompt you to ask yourself:

Why would presumably rational children and sane iSchoolers elect to attend the University Bookstore’s depressing, unfortunate, and tragic event…

“For Crying Out Loud: a reading by Lemony Snicket”

…on a Thursday last October? A night meant to promote a book so hopeless…so despondent…so utterly defeating (evidenced by its painfully honest title “The End”)?

Nevertheless, children traveled from far and wide to pay homage to this legend; author of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and one of few with the nerve and verve to expose to a misguidedly content public the suffering this world can impose upon young people much like his dedicated Seattle attendees.

The bravery and perseverance of Snicket’s popular protagonists, the Baudelaire orphans, in the face of their villainous enemy Count Olaf, was heroically matched by these courageous Northwest children, and by the resolve of iSchool students determined to assist with this atrocious event. We arrived fearing the worst and expecting unsurpassed misfortune. We, and the children of Seattle, were not disappointed.

In his element, perhaps due to the comfortingly deplorable Northwest climate, and drearily dull gray sky; Daniel Handler (the “official representative” of Lemony Snicket) gravely apologized to the crowd for the absence of the characteristically elusive Mr. Snicket. Lucky for him, it is challenging to disgruntle a young and astute audience expertly conditioned for disappointment and suffering by the previous 12 books of his austere series.

Without going into depressing detail and tiresomely appalling specifics, let me just say that the disagreeable words of Mr. Handler were emphasized by the dire musical performance of Stephen Merritt’s The Gothic Archies (for a sample, see: The book signing and activities, such as the “Picture Booth,” “Fortune Telling Booth,” and “Tattoo Parlor” further intensified the somber mood with lugubrious fortunes, and a terrifying tattoo selection of eyeballs, skulls, and aliens, among others. Ironically, the children seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.

If you weren’t there, thank your lucky stars. Sure, we made it out alive, yet with the distressing revelation that this event celebrated the final installation in an oddly reassuring tale of ever-increasing woe and hardship. Or, as Mr. Snicket more eloquently describes it, “170 chapters of misery in your library and countless tears in your eyes.”

The Fine Print: Please do not let this report deter you from attending future iServe events. We have learned our lesson and sincerely promise that the next one will be less perilous and exponentially more delightful. Keep your eyes and ears open for news of your next opportunity to serve the information needs of your community!

For more mournful information about Lemony Snicket and his work see:

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