The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
214 pgs, HarperCollins, 2000
A couple weeks ago while preparing to move, I was clearing my bookshelves. As I was working through my childhood books, lovingly appraising each of them before packing them safely away, I was slapped in the face by wave after wave of nostalgia. When I reached A Series of Unfortunate Events this nostalgia became tinged the scent of horseradish and confusion. Try as I might, consulting all thirteen volumes for reference, I found I couldn’t remember a thing about the third Baudelaire adventure The Wide Window. Adventure is a word which here means latest despairing trial.
This seemed preposterous, on a level of absurdity that rivaled Count Olaf. To say I was a fan of this series as a child is a monumental understatement. How could I have missed one? To give you a glimpse into my childhood madness consider this escapade.
I remember, after tearing through The Grim Grotto (I believe the same day—at the latest, the day after—it was released) sitting on my Batman Animated Series comforter flipping back through the story collecting newly revealed clues. What the hell is the deal with the VFD? I wondered. And why do they care so much about a damn sugar bowl? What will the next book be about? What will its title be? This last question intrigued me. It seemed within the realistic grasp of a twelve year old child to somehow deduce two unpublished and more than likely not-even-started-yet books. Could there be a pattern, a code of sorts, waiting for Trevor to come along with his sole genius and discover what no one else knew?!
You see, all the titles follow a pattern. Each word starts with the same letter (I didn’t know the word alliteration yet). Very interesting. There must be a pattern. Quick Robin, to the bookshelf. On the fourth shelf behind the books, next to the John Deere piggy bank and the Batman wallet, is your Secret Agent 007 notebook. Get to work.
My findings: the next, and final, two Baudelaire adventures will begin with the letter E and then the letter J. That’s as far as I got. In time it was revealed that the twelfth and thirteenth books would be called The Penultimate Peril and The End. So basically, I’m awesome, and bow down you filthy pagans. Oh, and do be so kind, forget that I had a 50% success rate by sheer chance, that I was ruined by the abrupt dismissal of alliterative titles with the last book, and that even though I guessed the correct letter ‘E’, I guessed it for the wrong book.
Needless to say, I was more than happy to right this thirteen-year-old mistake and read The Wide Window. If my tale of superior detective skill made you excited to pick up the series, you’re in for a treat. Lemony Snicket is one snarky bastard. It’s fantastic. Sit back and enjoy tales of horseradish, the Incredibly Deadly Viper, and poisonous mushrooms.
Bonus note: Apparently Netflix has made the series into a show. Yes! And, it stars Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket. That’s all I needed to hear. I’ll be there. Who doesn’t want more David Puddy?
Rating: 3 out of 5 Lachrymose Leeches
Up Next: The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander