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There are few sounds in this world that please me quite as much as to be working at the children's reference desk of my library and to hear a parent's reaction to the title of this book. When their small ward picks it up and offers it to them, there is sometimes a definite pause before the parent says aloud, "Wait... unauthorized autobiography? That's not possible". It's one of the perks of my job. I first bought and read this book in 2002 after reading only four books in "A Series of Unfortunate Events". I can tell you right here and now that that was a huge mistake. Not the buying the book part, but the reading it after having only reviewed four of the books in the series. I've since then read the rest of the books currently published and, prior to reading this, I suggest you do the same. Though the book will make a bit of sense here and there, you're really only going to understand it fully after you've at least gotten through, "The Slippery Slope". Just a warning.

Now this book is unlike any other you're likely to come across. And though paperback editions of this puppy exist, I'm telling you right here and now that it is worth the extra money to buy the hardback. If you get the paperback you're missing out on one of the greatest publishing operations available to child readers everywhere. The cover of this book is reversible so that if your enemies should notice it in your hands, you can make them think that you're simply perusing Lenoy M. Setnick's, "The Pony Party" (part of "The Luckiest Kids in the World!" series). Inside, the book's a devilishly clever collection of stories, bits of correspondance, burned newspaper articles, lost telegrams, and various mysterious photographs. Kids who crack the book's codes, hints, and family trees will begin to understand a lot more about the people the Baudelaires have been in contact with over the years. Did you know that Esme Squalor only married Jerome because of where he lived? Or that Mr. Poe has a sister that caused Lemony his job? Did you know that the film, "Zombies in the Snow", may have contained a hidden message that Uncle Monty completely missed in Book #2?

For adults like myself, the book is just as wildly interesting as it is to kids. Adults will probably get a lot more of the in-jokes, though. In a photograph of a ship's crew, every sailor has the name of a famous children's author. I think I only caught on when I read the name of Sailor Creech next to Sailor Danzinger. There's even a transcript of the moment the schism arose in V.F.D. in the first place. Most impressive of all, oddly, is the index in the back. If you've the time and inclination, a careful inspection of it will reveal further clues to the Baudelaire/Snicket/Quagmire drama. I also loved the fact that the photographs in the book range wildly in time and era. Most of them seem to originate in 1932, but there are 1960s shots, Victorian era prints, and some pictures of Lemony that must have been made relatively recently. Heck, even the publication page in the front of the book reveals tiny statements and clues for people to pore through. It's an intense experience, reading this book.

I think the real lure of V.F.D., as shown in this book, is that anyone can join regardless of age. And that may be where the real intrugue for kids lies. Children who've always wanted to belong to a secret spy organization and who love "A Series of Unfortunate Events" will probably read this book to shreds. They'll get the references. They'll understand the nuances. They'll be the most appreciative of audiences. But it is absolutely imperitive that you read the other books first. This isn't your standard story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It's more like a collection of mismatched documents all working together to give kids some insight into a thirteen volume mystery. It's a truly enjoyable experience.
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VINE VOICEon September 9, 2004
At one point during the reading of this book I was sorely tempted to sit down with pencil and paper and try to pull together the astonishing number of clues that were being dropped like biting nails on every page. In the end I decided that I had better things to do - but that only means that I was busy doing other things, and not that it wouldn't have been interesting or worthwhile.

This book contains the same wit that makes A Series of Unfortunate Events so powerfully readable, and it is absolutely full of clues regarding V.F.D, from who is in it, what its function is, and hints at what caused the schism.

When I put the book down I couldn't help but be amazed at the brilliance at work here. It's a story within a story within a one mirror directed at another, its depth is endless.

It seems fairly obvious what V.F.D. stands for, given the clues we have, but knowing "Lemony Snicket" and the delight he takes in confusing situations, I highly doubt that it will be that simple. Heck, Count Olaf might turn out to be the good guy in all of this! Who knows?

The inside cover of the dust jacket was hilarious. "Lemony Snicket" really has a terrific sense of humor. I'm very, very grateful that these books were published; they are an absolute joy to read.
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on May 11, 2002
The title of this book is a bit misleading. Don't expect to get the life story of Lemony Snicket- what you're going to get is a bunch of documents and photographs in the style of the "messages to the editor" that Snicket leaves in the back of each of the Series of Unfortunate Events books. This book is basically a collection of a lot of different sources that give you hints as to what V.F.D. might be, and some glimpses into the life of Snicket. This book DEFINITELY does not stand on its own... only readers of the Series of Unfortunate Events will understand it. In fact, this book would be a total waste of time even for readers of the Unfortunate Events series except that this book is extremely funny. If you're a fan of the past books, this one'll make you roll with laughter. And don't forget to take the jacket of the book off... there's even a joke involved with that. All in all, if you're an Unfortunate Events fan who can't wait for the next book to come out, this'll hold you over just fine.
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on November 1, 2002
How can you describe "The Unauthorized Autobiography of Lemony Snicket"? I know a lot of people don't like this book. I know they think it is dumb, boring, or just doesn't give them enough information about anything.
Let me tell you something. This book is probably anything but that. First, read the Series of Unfortunate Events up to #8 (Which is what I'm up to, I hope to get 9 soon!). If you don't read any of them, or even just skip one, YOU WILL NOT UNDERSTAND THIS BOOK.
Second, read this book as many times as you need to, and don't skip anything! Even read the index! I have so far read this book 3 times, and still want to read it again. Every time I find more and more interesting things- such as Daniel Handler is shown in the book!
Who is Daniel Handler? He's "Lemony Snicket's Representative". Even though Lemony Snicket is fictional, the best thing to do while reading this book is to pretend he's real. If you don't, you may find yourself getting disinterested.
I was somewhat disappointed the first time that I didn't find anything out about who Beatrice is (ahh! stupid page 211!) but after looking through it again, I learned a lot! Hint: Mozart's Fourteenth Symphony. I myself can only hum Ode To Joy, Beethoven's 9th Symphony...but anyway, back to the book!!
If you buy this, I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope I won't offend anyone with this, but you have to have a "logical" mind that can pierce things together. If you don't, don't bother reading this book- you'll be lost completely.
I hope I've helped you decide whether or not to read this book! I enjoyed it a lot. I wish I could join VFD! And what is VFD, anyway? A Very Funky Disco! Wait... A Vascular Funnel Digest! Wait....Oh, well, I don't know what VFD is...well, actually I don't know what the initials are! I just know what it is, a few places it used to be, and how to join it...If you excuse me now, I think I just heard a page turning outside...
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on May 17, 2002
I must admit, my first reaction when I heard about this book was "huh?" I have the entire Series of Unfortunate Events (SoUE)and I love Snickets irreverent style. Still, I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of slogging through blurry pages discussing an imaginary author. Fortunately, Mr. Snicket (who is in hiding from a diabolical plot and is not, repeat NOT, Daniel Handler) is writing more to his adult readers and we are never bored.
The book, though it may look a bit dull at first, is crammed full of inside references to SoUE and plenty of hints as to the real nature of VFD, whether the Beaudalaire parents are alive and (probably the most asked question) who Beatrice is. Naturally, none of the questions are answered directly but there are plenty of tantalizing hints.
We are given transcripts of the VFD meetings, photos (all blurry of course) of the elusive author, pages torn from other books, coded messages, a delightfully twisted copyright page and a song about Lemony Snicket's childhood abduction (!)
As pointed out before, the dust jacket is one of the best parts of the book. Don't forget to use it! Your very life may depend on it.
Lemony Snicket just keeps getting better and better, I can't wait for the next installment of SoUE. This book has more than whetted my appetite.
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on August 11, 2006
Seriously, after about five pages into this book, you'll feel like you're reading a coded message from one spy to another. Like a previous reviewer said, it's best to read this after reading a lot of the other books (I would try up to Hostile Hospital) so you can understand it. I began to read this after Austere Academy and I regretted buying it. Then, after reading the other books, I gave this a shot, and it was so much more easy to read!! So much is revealed, but also so many more questions are raised. I have the paperback edition, but I think I'll get the hardcover, cause that reversable cover sound GREAT!!!! If you are a fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, pick this up!
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on May 1, 2006
I loved this book! It was a bit confusing at first, since how can it be a biography if there is no Lemony Snicket? But this book was clever and funny.

For those who say: it was confusing, stupid, made no sense, please realize that all those pics, clippings, articles were CONNECTED to the books and dropped hints of why everything happened. For example, why didn't Mr. Poe recieve the telegram the Baudelaires sent him in book 8? Read it to find out! (And several other secrets and hints, too!)

Also, it was funny and witty. The reversible cover was cute!!

If you've read the A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS books, this book is definitly recommended. It may make you think, but several secrets would be unraveled. Its worth it!
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on June 20, 2002
If you haven't read Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books, particularly books five through eight (the most recent), you probably will not get as much out of this book and should start with those.
This "biography" explores the V.F.D. conspiracy story arc that becomes increasingly important in the later books, and seems to be aimed for slightly more sophisticated readers. There isn't really a narrative per se, but a collection of notes, letters, minutes, and found pictures, full of self-references, oblique references to characters and events from "A Series Of Unfortunate Events," and cryptic teasers. The index sets the tone-- if you try to look anything up, you'll be sent on a spiral of "see also"'s that are sometimes frustrating, sometimes illuminating (hinting at conspiracies and pseudonyms), but always amusing.
Readers new to Snicket may want to skim this, realizing that they won't get most of the jokes and allusions, then return to it after reading the books. It may not answer all your questions, but you'll appreciate the effort that went into assembling this puzzling in-joke.
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on June 22, 2002
This latest book,on the doings of Mr.Lemony Snicket,will have your Pavlovian reading bells ringing!
If you're not familiar with this unfortunate series of books:BEWARE! It has been some while since a book written for Our time has been seen. A book full of allies and Enemies! If you can find this volume,tary not,buy it Now. In fact,stop reading this review,take to foot,and Run to your nearest book seller!If you must cross the Amazon,do it! You will not be ashamed to make this Purchase. The story of Lemony Snicket is one you will look At again and again. You will enjoy showing it to all Your friends. Should they ask to borrow it,reply: "get your Own copy,pal!". So do not sit idle and fear the Risk of owning this tome - varily,feel delightful!
Bells are now ringing! Ringing happily for all who enjoy these books!
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on November 8, 2002
This is an AWESOME book! I've seen complaints, a word which here means "whining because you have to think in order to understand the book", but, DON'T BELIEVE THEM! IF you read it carefully, you will piece together a LOT about VFD, Beatrice, the survivor of the Baudelaire Fire, and the Quagmire Triplets. Reread it after each new book comes out and you'll get even more information, however subtle. Thinks like The Sebald Code are bound to be increasingly important in the later books.
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