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Adverbs: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060724412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060724412
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #711,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The qualities that draw millions to Lemony Snicket—absurdity, wicked humor, a love of wordplay—get adulterated in this elegant exploration of love. Handler brings linguistic pyrotechnics to a set of encounters: gay, straight, platonic and all degrees of dysfunctional. Amid the deadpan ("Character description: Appropriately tall. Could dress better.") and the exhausting ("Love was in the air, so both of us walked through love on our way to the corner.") are moments of blithe poignancy: quoth a lone golfer, "Love is this sudden crash in your path, quick and to the point, and nearly always it leaves someone slain on the green." In "Obviously," a teenage boy pines for his co-worker at the multiplex while they both tear tickets for Kickass: The Movie. In "Briefly," the narrator, now married, recounts being 14 and infatuated with his big sister's boyfriend, Keith. "Truly" begins "This part's true," and features a character named Daniel Handler, who has an exchange about miracles with a novelist named Paula Sharp. Handler began his career with the coming-of-age novel The Basic Eight; this lovely, lilting book is a kind of After School Special for adults that dramatizes love's cross-purposes with panache: "Surely somebody will arrive, in a taxi perhaps, attractively, artfully, aggressively, or any other way it is done."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Daniel Handler, author of the best-selling A Series of Unfortunate Events, captures the intricacies of love—though not necessarily its emotional resonance—in his newest book. Set mostly in a colorful near-future San Francisco that may (or may not) succumb to terrorism or volcanic eruptions, the stories feature Handler's trademark wordplays, ironic humor, and visceral descriptions. While critics praised the magical writing, most expressed confusion over the book's structure. Do the Davids and Andreas that appear in the stories simply share the same name, or are they discrete characters? If the latter, why do they sound alike? While each story entertains and offers a lesson of sorts on love, together the stories fail to coalesce into a larger narrative.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

I love the story where the character forces himself on the cabbie.
Marla
After I read it, I began to see the motifs, connections, theses, situations, and even characters of the book in my own life, which was very exciting indeed.
Alex B.
If you like wisp thin plotting, facile characters and an author who plays with words rather than deeper meaning, waste your time with Adverbs.
Eileen Pierce

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Eric J. Lyman on May 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I didn't know about the connection between author Daniel Handler and his pseudonym Lemony Snicket until after I finished Adverbs, but I think I sensed a kinship between the two. Both are told with a certain deadpan humor, both wrestle the maximum meaning out of words and phrases, both stop just a hair short of becoming pedantic in their explanations.

Unfortunately, after a certain point, I think the unusual combination of characteristics under both names succeeds ... but at the expense of the narrative.

The biggest difference, of course, is that Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events is written for children (or, perhaps more accurately, at the parents who buy them for their children), while Adverbs is aimed at adults. And while the former explores some of the central themes of childhood -- fear of abandonment, need for approval, adventure, that sort of thing -- Adverbs focuses squarely on the main theme of adulthood: love.

The book is made up of 16 intersecting stories that, with witty pen and stiff upper lip, explore the frail state of love. The title of the 250-page volume comes from the fact that each chapter is named for the adverb that modifies the word love as it is described in that chapter.

I thought the first chapter -- entitled "Immediately" -- was the best, telling us about a couple on their way to hear a will read. Here's how it starts:

"Love was in the air, so both of us walked through love on our way to the corner. We breathed it in, particularly me: the air was also full of smells and birds, but it was love, I was sure, that was tumbling down to my lungs, the heart's neighbors and confidants. Andrea was tall and angry. I was a little bit shorter. She smoked cigarettes. I worked in a store that sold things.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By zugenia on July 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
You know how sometimes you read so much of an author that his tone of voice, his quirky eye for quirky things, his attachment to certain moods and turns of phrase and senses of humor become fully acclimated to your own tone of voice, your own quirky eye, your own moody and wordy and humorous attachments, at least in your own head, so that you forget that they came from somewhere and just think, "That's the way things are; this is the way I think about the way things are," and you think, "This is how the world is, to me; this is how I am, in the world," and then you pick up another book by that author and you think, "This is interesting, but, frankly, he's just saying what passes in my own mind, my own everyday mind, and how hard is that--I do it all the time," and it takes you a while to realize that the reason the earth isn't trembling as you read is not that you could have written this book just by being in the world, no, but that the book is written in the very language in which your mind has been taught to think, and you have to realize that before you can realize what new kinds of things it's saying to you this time?

That's how I am with Daniel Handler. I don't love all his books. Of course, I am devoted to the splendid Series of Unfortunate Events. I enjoyed The Basic Eight very much, but it didn't place Handler in my pantheon of Writers Too Brilliant To Be True, alongside the likes of Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka, and Haruki Murakami. And I was actively disappointed by Watch Your Mouth, which just didn't work, somehow. But last night I stayed up late finishing his most recent work, Adverbs, and I realized around 1:37am that all the barely conscious judgments I'd been passing on the book as I read, ranging from the enchanted to the skeptical, were not at all the point.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By K. Sullivan VINE VOICE on July 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My first exposure to Daniel Handler was his Series of Unfortunate Events writing as Lemony Snicket. I was delighted with his clever dry wit. I appreciated how he captured the absurdity of mundane things. His turns of phrase were frequently genuinely hilarious. Inspired, I read his other works in this order, Watch Your Mouth and The Basic Eight. Of the two, I was more impressed with the latter (his earlier work). I found the narrative compelling while still enjoying the dry clever wit I had so appreciated in A Series. Watch Your Mouth also aptly displayed his sense of humor and his keen ability to take you into the minds of his characters. However, I did not appreciate the narrative so much. I relatively enjoyed the book but felt like something was missing. It was surreal somehow and left me feeling a little off and incomplete; like I wasn't quite sure what I had just experienced.

This brings me to his latest work, Adverbs: A Novel. The writing and style is classic Handler. And I find it impossible not to appreciate his very special literary talents. His ability with words and mundane thoughts is simply unmatched. We are being treated to the craft of a genius. That said, again, I felt the narrative was wanting. Of course, this is not a standard novel. As others note, the chapters are connected but not by a single plot weaving its way to a conclusion. No, each chapter can stand alone, though it likely shouldn't. Surely Handler has some master plan behind it all, but I could not for my life identify what it was. Yes, the book is about love - whatever that means. I find myself asking that very question... what is love? Maybe he wants us to search ourselves for that answer... maybe not. He tells us that love is in the doing, or more precisely "how" we do it.
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