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The Unauthorized Autobiography will mainly appeal to
those who have already read most of the books in A Series of Unfortunate
Events. Even fans of the other Lemony
Snicket books may find this a rather frustrating experience to read because it
is so fragmentary. The basic premise is
that it is a collection of documents and photographs assembled by Lemony
Snicket and then found by someone else, one of the many mysterious strangers in
the book. There are so many mysteries
here that readers may well feel overwhelmed.
The chapter headings ask the sort of questions we want answers to; Why
has Mr. Snicket dedicated his life to the Baudelaire case? Why does Count
Olaf have a tattoo of an eye on his ankle? Who is Beatrice? What is VFD?
and Are the Baudelaire parents really dead?
But the book really only gives a hint of an answer to one of these
questions. Indeed, Lemony Snicket
apparently has crossed out those chapter headings and replaced them with ones
that he considers more appropriate, but the poor reader will surely disagree
with Mr. Snicket about this.
have then is an assortment of photographs, drawings, songs, telegrams, ticket
stubs, newspaper clippings, minutes of meetings, transcripts of secret
conversations, letters, maps, film screenplays, theatre reviews, and disguise
instruction manuals. Some of them
contain coded messages, and some of the codes are revealed, but the poor reader
is left with the feeling that maybe many of the other documents also contain
coded messages, but there is no explanation of how to search for those secret
messages! There are many references to
events that were chronicled in the previous books of the Snicket series, and
indeed, this book even refers to some of those earlier books. What it does not do it help the reader work
out the answers to any of the significant questions raised in those books.
there is very little mention of the Baudelaires, or the Quagmires, or Mr.
Poe. What we have instead is
information (or possibly false information planted to confuse us) about a
secret organization called the VFD, and it seems that it formed as a result of
a schism in the Original Fire Department.
Members of the VFD had tattoos.
But having one of those tattoos might not necessarily be a good or a bad
sign, since it also seems that there were infiltrators in the VFD, or maybe
turncoats. Its very likely that Olaf
and Esmé were such. Needless to say, though,
this is all speculation, because the book is not very clear, and I am one of
the poor readers who had to struggle through the confusion. Recommended for only the most devoted fans
of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.
Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College,
Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research
is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in
exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is
keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health
professionals, and the general public.
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