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From a random review:

  

« Prose, Francine: Reading Like a Writer | Main | Troost, J. Maarten: Getting Stoned with Savages »

Snicket, Lemony: The End

  

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HarperCollins © 2006, 368 pages [amazon]
3.5 stars

Lemony Snicket is back with the 13th and final installment (released, naturally, on Friday the 13th) of his Series of Unfortunate Events, simply entitled The End. When the book begins the orphans who are Snicket's unfortunate protagonists--Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire--are adrift in a small boat with their nemesis, the unibrowed Count Olaf, who's been trying to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune since the series began. Since he and the orphans are in the same boat, Olaf is certain the money is as good as his, and he imagines what he will do with it in a passage that demonstrates his wickedness and egocentrism as well as his creator's authorial playfulness:

"'I think the first thing I'll buy for myself is a shiny new car!' Count Olaf said. 'Something with a powerful engine, so I can drive faster than the legal limit, and an extra-thick bumper, so I can ram into people without getting all scratched up! I'll name the car Count Olaf, after myself, and whenever people hear the squeal of breaks, they'll say, "Here comes Count Olaf!" Orphans, head for the nearest luxury car dealership!'"
Olaf and the orphans finally come to land on a coastal shelf and soon meet the nearby islanders, castaways themselves, mostly, who have come to embrace the simple lifestyle urged upon them by the island's enigmatic facilitator, a certain Ishmael ("Call me Ish"). Everything washes up on the shores of this island eventually--documents and kitchen whisks and batteries, people and serpents who've been lost at sea--so it is not surprising that the Baudelaires are reunited there with a couple of old friends. They are also able to find amidst the island's collected detritus some information pertinent to their own history.

Fiction isn't real life, after all; it's life polished into something finite and graspable, with, usually, the boring parts removed.Considering the book apart from its role as the final installment in the series, The End is as good as many and better than some of Snicket's earlier books--better, certainly, than the tiresome, repetitious Penultimate Peril (read my review). Snicket continues to amuse with his verbal play:

"As I'm sure you know, there are many words in our mysterious and confusing language that can mean two completely different things. The word 'bear,' for instance, can refer to a rather husky mammal found in the woods, as in the sentence, 'The bear moved quietly toward the camp counselor, who was too busy putting on lipstick to notice,' but it can also refer to how much someone can handle, as in the sentence 'The loss of my camp counselor is more than I can bear.'"
And, delightfully, Snicket allows Olaf to become a more nuanced character. It is interesting, too, to see the pattern of the Baudelaires' lives altered: for once they encounter adults who are not taken in by one of Olaf's disguises. Intriguing questions are raised in the book--about Olaf's role in their lives, about Lemony Snicket's relationship with Beatrice, about Mr. Poe. One reads on, eager for answers.

The End being the end, however, one must consider how well the book functions as a conclusion. And here, alas, readers are apt to be very disappointed indeed. Granted, Snicket repeatedly makes the point in the book that all stories are interconnected and that no story ever really begins or ends: its threads reach infinitely into the past as well as the future. That is true in life, but we do expect authors to impose a neater structure on their stories. Fiction isn't real life, after all; it's life polished into something finite and graspable, with, usually, the boring parts removed. Snicket has, unfortunately, failed to answer a great many questions in his final book, and has at the same time raised several more. What, for example, became of the elusive sugar bowl that motivated so much action earlier in the series, and why was it important? What was the giant question mark that appeared so menacingly on the radar screen of the Queequeg back in book eleven? What familial relationship is implied by the fact that, as we are told, Violet was going to be called Lemony if she were a boy? It may be that some of the answers to these and other questions can be found in The Beatrice Letters, which was released a month before The End and which I have not read. But even if so, readers shouldn't have to look outside of the series itself to find simple resolution.

Mr. Snicket, I fear, has failed us. The End is another clever book from his drawing board, to be sure, but it is not enough for us to be told twelve books into the series that the author doesn't have all the answers.

Review summary: The 13th and final installment in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events finds the Baudelaire orphans adrift at sea with Count Olaf. They land on a coastal shelf and meet the nearby islanders, castaways who have embraced the simple lifestyle advocated by the island's facilitator, a certain Ishmael. The Baudelaires are reunited there with some old friends, and they stumble upon information pertinent to their own history. Considered apart from its role as the final installment in the series, The End is as good as many and better than some of Snicket's earlier books. The author continues to amuse with his verbal play, and, happily, he allows Olaf to become a more nuanced character. But readers are apt to be disappointed with the book as a concluding chapter in the story: Snicket has left too many questions unanswered.

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Comments

1.

The beatrice letters does have one "answer" - it contains a set of letters which you assemble to form two words. It is these words that made Jenny conclude an end to the end.
But I haven't read either the series or the beatrice letters -- my only knowledge is hearing tim curry relate the first book on a tape in the car. He (Curry) read it so disgustingly (in character as Count Olaf) that I could not bear to read or listen to any of the rest of the books. Jenny has read them all, though, so can let you know the "beatrice letters" clue if you'd like it (via email so as not to spoil it for anyone else). Over here the Beatrice letters costs £9.99 so it might save you some money.

2.

If you were wondering what happens after the end, then here are the letters from the "Beatrice Letters":

E E N S I K R A C T A B

Arange the letters to find out what happened to the Baudelaire children.

3.

Thanks, Jenni! But assuming that happened, it doesn't have to imply that, you know, that was the end, no? By the way, how did you know to find this clue? What did he say about it?

I'm just so disappointed in the end/The end. Rebecca was actually angry about it.

4.

"The Beatrice Letters" is basically a book of letters from Lemony Snicket to Beatrice, or Vice Versa. But in each letter there is a letter (as in a letter from the alphabet). You can pop out all of these letters and rearange them to find the clue I gave you. It also gives you a big poster showing what happens, which I did not understand before I read the 13th book. "The Betrice Letters" is still very confusing, but I think it is Beatrice (the little one) trying to get Lemony Snicket to tell her what happenned to the Baudelaire children because she cannot remember (she must have somehow survived).
But, then again, if little Beatrice survived, maybe the Baudelaires did too?

5.

Oh, interesting. I hadn't even thought of the Beatrice being the other one.

How very annoying this is all getting, though. I think he's playing with us a bit too much.

6.

I agree

7.

I would like to have an almost whole book sumurary or main details by 2marrow if anyone can tell me.

8.

i have thouroughly read the 13th book and have discovered that there is a note in it, very tiny in french i have translatd it into

Dead, old o captain, it is times get up the anchor
This country us bored dead o! let us match!
If the sky and the sea are black as black
ink hearts that you know are filled with rays!

wich i have a theory has to do with the 'questionmark' on the radar screen in book the 11th , other wise refered to as the 'great beyond' or deaththe great beyond , as kit says, is were captain widershins ( who abondoned the queenqueg when a lady came to summon him), the quagmire triplets, and i do belive, lemony snicket himself are.

please, oh please let me know any info. you have discovered, we may find the answers to the questions

9.

a note:

the above poem can be found just before dedication in the book the 14th, on what appears to be the page with the printing info.
just above the starfish-shaped thing

it is in french for those who care to test my translation (i am a bit dodgy in french, better at russian)
kerry

10.

At this point it's been too long for me since I've thought about any of this. Plus I came away from this book annoyed at having so much left unanswered. So I'll throw this open to others: Maxine? Jenny?

11.

hmm... difficult i dont get the letters anagram i rearanged and got either "seen back at ir" or snicket bark ae....

i seriously doubt either is right help me please?

12.

Hi, Andrew: BEATRICE SANK (!)




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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