And Then? And Then? What Else?

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Pub Date 21 May 2024 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2024

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A bold, candid, vulnerable, and entertaining memoir of a literary life by the writer otherwise known as Lemony Snicket.

Part memoir, part inspiration for aspiring writers, And Then? And Then? What Else? traces Daniel Handler’s sometimes challenging and often amusing path toward one of the most spectacularly successful writing careers of the twenty-first century. Declaring his love of strange literature, Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil in particular, Handler reflects on the life experiences—some of them deeply personal and revealed for the first time—and the cultural influences that shaped his writing, both under his own name and as Lemony Snicket, the lonely, beleaguered, somehow both cynical and romantic narrator of the beloved thirteen-volume saga of three unlucky orphans that became one of the best-selling series of all time. Inspiring, revelatory, and entertaining, And Then? And Then? What Else? is destined to become a classic of its genre, every bit as influential as Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings or Stephen King’s On Writing have been on previous generations.

About the Author: Daniel Handler is best known for his books as Lemony Snicket, notably the thirteen-volume A Series of Unfortunate Events and the four-book sequence All the Wrong Questions. Under his given name, he is the author of seven novels, and has worked extensively in music, theater, film, and television.

A bold, candid, vulnerable, and entertaining memoir of a literary life by the writer otherwise known as Lemony Snicket.

Part memoir, part inspiration for aspiring writers, And Then? And Then? What...

Advance Praise

"Thought-provoking, deeply personal, and like few other memoirs in the range of topics covered, Handler's mix of the personal and the literary is as compelling as his gloriously off-beat fiction." - Booklist, starred review

“With his inimitable wit and candor, Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, crafts an exceptionally companionable memoir sure to delight and perhaps even challenge both existing fans and readers new to his work….A fully captivating memoir rich with insights on reading, writing, and life itself.”--Kirkus Reviews, starred review 

"Thought-provoking, deeply personal, and like few other memoirs in the range of topics covered, Handler's mix of the personal and the literary is as compelling as his gloriously off-beat fiction." - ...

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ISBN 9781324090601
PRICE $26.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

As a lifelong reader of Snicket's/Handler’s work, I was ecstatic to pick this one up. One of my favorite books is his most recent work, Poison for Breakfast, and I was hoping that this would follow in that tradition of musings on art, life, and philosophy. I was not disappointed and read through the whole thing in an afternoon.

The book is very personal (as memoirs usually are) but not exactly in the ways I expected. He speaks about deeply personal experiences (most of them as a kid or young adult), some of which are going to surprise some people; they certainly surprised me. There were things he shared regarding himself as a public figure that I didn’t expect as well, such as some of the controversies he has faced in the last several years. This is the most sincere and earnest that I have ever seen him. But again, the form allows for this.

One thing that will probably surprise no one is the never-ending reference and allusions to works by other people: novels, poems, and films. There are an abundance of quotes throughout with, of course, lots of commentary from DH. In that way, it is indeed a cousin to Poison for Breakfast, though it won’t be confused for a Snicket work. The voice is distinctly Handler’s.

The first half of the book really delves into his background and childhood, all the while interspersed with tangents about process and collecting information to use. It is not completely chronological. Instead, it weaves in and out of events and topics. The result of this is that he usually doesn’t spend too long talking about any one thing.

I deeply appreciated his thoughts about art, how we approach it, and what we do with it. In the book, he implores his readers to find their own niche in literature and discover what they enjoy. This is empowering and if everybody follows his advice, the world might be just a little bit better.

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Thank you to NetGalley and W. W. Norton & Company/Liveright for providing me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I grew up reading Lemony Snicket novels. As a kid, I felt as if Lemony Snicket truly understood what my generation was wanting to read and didn't just write books to teach us lessons or to talk down to us... but, instead, to provide us with fun and mysterious ways to think about life and all of its unfairness (particularly to children). So, when I saw Daniel Handler was publishing a memoir focused on writing, I had to read it! I was so excited to hear more about how he wrote and where he took inspiration from. I was both excited and nervous to see how his style would hold up in a nonfiction format. I am thrilled to say that this book exceeded my expectations in so many ways.

One highlight of And Then? And Then? What Else? for me is its authenticity. I went to a Lemony Snicket book signing when I was in middle school. I will never forget asking Daniel Handler what advice he had for aspiring writers; he pulled out a pocket-sized notebook and showed it to me (I remember feeling like I was let in on a secret as he flipped through pages full of writing!). He told me that he always had a notebook with him, and he recommended that aspiring writers do the same, because you never know where you'll find inspiration. The first chapter of this book discusses essentially the same thing, and it made me smile as I read it. The entire book genuinely feels as if the author is opening himself up to readers and explaining what shapes his craft, without sugarcoating any details. I was surprised throughout many chapters about what Daniel Handler was open to discussing about his personal life and found it valuable to read about how events he experienced may have been influential. It made the writing all the more impactful, because I could tell it was coming from a reflective, honest perspective. It was almost like I was back at that book signing and being shown another secret to writing - this works fabulously for a nonfiction book, because it really draws the audience in.

This book is partially a memoir and partially a thoughtful look at art, writing, and how the things we love influence our own art. It's full of references to other art (books, movies, poetry, music, and more) and explanations of how those pieces shaped the author's writing process and, ultimately, his own books. It was absolutely fascinating. Daniel Handler comes off as someone who truly loves literature and art; it's so interesting to see how little pieces of media lived in his mind and found their home in his work. He even includes many quotations from other writers and discusses what he found notable about those quotes. This book serves as a great example of how language shapes us - even small segments of greater works. There are so many other authors and musicians I want to check out after reading this!

I also greatly appreciate how the author emphasizes throughout this book that everyone will have a different, personal literary canon of things they admire, and that it's worth exploring more of what you enjoy to learn why you are drawn to those things. Too often, it seems as if society pushes certain media at us and tells us what to aspire to, when actually, everyone has different preferences, and diving deeper into what you like may ultimately be more insightful to your creativity than the content professors or famous writers tell you to admire. If you can't already tell from this review, while this book is deeply personal to the author, its themes also inspire self-reflection in the reader. It gave me so much to think about. Much as other literature stuck with the author throughout his life, I expect that Daniel Handler's words here will live on in my mind for a long time.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves Lemony Snicket or Daniel Handler books. The author has a fantastic voice in other novels I've read by him. I was happy to see that his voice was still strong here. If you like the almost stream of consciousness style of writing that he uses, you'll adore this book! It's full of little anecdotes and stories - each one offering something different. At times I found myself laughing out loud, only to tear up or feel a gut punch of emotions a few pages later. I'd also recommend this to anyone who enjoys admiring art in general, as well as to aspiring artists. The book is certainly focused on literature and writing, but I imagine anyone who appreciates art itself will find something valuable within its pages. It's been about a decade since I read Stephen King's On Writing, but I think it's a great comparison to this book. If you liked that one, you should definitely give this a try.

I don't really have any critiques. I'm not sure everyone will find this as moving as I did, but I know there is a group of readers who will genuinely love this book. If you don't like books that are filled with references or that meander off into many side stories, you may want to skip this... but if that's your cup of tea, then I highly recommend picking up And Then? And Then? What Else? as soon as it's published!

5 out of 5 stars.

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This book is deeply reflective centered on personal stories as they relate to art, primarily literature, but music and movies play a role. I really enjoyed the structure of this. It is a lot of Handler reflecting on where inspiration comes from and how his own works become something. I've never read anything of his outside of his work as Lemony Snicket but I do think I'll go read other stuff. The impassioned way he talks about other authors did have me stopping to research and add things to my own reading list constantly. This is genuinely a great reflection of how we shape what we experience and what we experience shapes us. Well written and with a lot of quotes that are talked about reverently and with personal meaning. I think Daniel Handler has always been a strange person, who enjoys strange things, and writes for strange people. As a strange person I appreciate the work.

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