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Watch Your Mouth: A Novel Paperback – February 19, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006093817X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060938178
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

So twisted that even its protagonist can't keep up with the perverse turns of plot, this melodramatic satire of family life trembles between virtuosity and utter collapse. Handler (The Basic Eight) sets up the first half of his comically warped novel as a mock opera, complete with stage and orchestra directions. Joseph, self-cast as the young hero, is a college student just finishing his junior year. Urged by his insatiable girlfriend, Cynthia Glass, to spend the summer sleeping by her side, Joseph moves in with her family in Pittsburgh, where the two plan to work as counselors at a Jewish day camp. Dinner at the Glass house the first night clues Joseph in to the family's bizarre fascinationsAincest, science, KabbalahAbut he still has no idea what he's getting into. After closer acquaintance with the creepily rational Dr. Glass (baritone), his high-strung, opera-loving wife, Mimi (soprano) and their precocious young son Stephen (tenor), he continues to be bemused, though unspeakable acts are clearly taking place offstage. Handler's baroque prose curls in elegant arabesques, but his elaborate plotting too often overwhelms his characters. Weakest of all is his portrait of the doomed Cynthia (with the obvious pun of her diminutive "Cyn"), who never quite emerges from Joseph's horny descriptions of their romance. After the opera-melodrama's weird but tantalizing climax, involving death and the golem myth, the novel actually recovers its narrative balance as the psychologically scarred Joseph turns to New Age recovery paperbacks, which replace opera as Handler's satiric model. Layered with coincidences and surprises, Joseph's on-the-lam nine-step self-help program achieves some of the novel's potential as a "Turn of the Screwball" black comedy. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Billed rather tastelessly by the publisher as an "incest comedy," Handler's second novel (following The Basic Eight) is ambitious but flawed. Joseph tells the story of a lust-filled college summer he spent with his Jewish girlfriend, Cyn ("Sin") Glass (think J.D. Salinger), and her "close-knit" family in Pittsburgh. The events in Part 1 of this Bildungsroman are treated as a four-act opera, complete with set and musical directions. The aftermath, Part 2, is packaged as a parody of the AA 12-step program. Sex between Joseph and his lovers (Cyn and those who follow) and Handler's clever writing provide entertainment, but the novel, like the golem in it (Joseph is convinced that Cyn's mother has made one), lacks the requisite soul for longevity. Purchase for comprehensive fiction collections or where there's demand for quirky, offbeat work like this.DRebecca Sturm Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Also, the ending was weak and rather predictable.
T. Snyder
Watch Your Mouth is a great book that can be confusing sometimes, because Joseph doesn't quite believe what's happening in front of his eyes.
BookFinds
One of the weirdest books I have ever encountered--but well worth the read.
Frank Navarro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on September 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
In case you haven't heard, Daniel Handler is the mastermind behind Lemony Snicket, author of the unlucky adventures of the three Baudelaire orphans. His success as Snicket seemed to have happened overnight, but he's been writing for a while it seems, with two adult novels (this one and The Basic Eight to his credit, both written before the Snicket books, I believe). In combination, it is quite clear that Handler is well on his way to becoming the 21st century Roald Dahl, who also wrote books for both adults and children that combined both whimsy and perversion.
And if you want perversion, you can't do much better than a comic novel about incest, which is what this book is. The structure of the book begins as an opera (it ties in to some community opera done by one of the characters), then mutates in Act III to be based on a 12-step program. Like Dahl in My Uncle Oswald, Handler isn't afraid of writing about sex, either. I was reading this on the airplane and I kept holding the book open at 90 degrees rather than the normal 180 just in case the fellow sitting next to me travelling with his young child might glance over and then alert the attendent to the pervert on the plane.
I'm not sure I liked this book, but I have to admit it was audacious, quite funny, and always unusual. The ending was disappointing as Handler went in for the more serious ending rather than really ending off as absurd as he began. All in all, this is an adult series of unfortunate events that is recommended for mature minds only.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Audrey L. Orenstein on March 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I discovered that Lemony Snicket was Daniel Handler I found this
book here. I saw the first few reviews and hoped this book was as unusual as it truly was. I was tired of reading what my book group read (sad women finding themselves and living happily ever after) - I wanted to be shocked and challenged and this book fit the bill! I loved it for being different, taking chances to write in a style of being an opera, to incorporate tough subjects for the pop culture (old Jewish mysiticim and incest). I know I need to read this book a second time to understand all the humor but I loved it for being "OUT" there where most readers won't go. Some parts reminded me of Bee Season and Feast of Love.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rtheatley on July 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Basic Eight was a fun first novel, but Handler outdoes himself with this one. Strange, sexy, scary and incredibly smart, this is an unearthly take on desire and family issues. I predict his cult following will only grow with this very weird but absolutely hypnotizing novel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up because of the kid's books Handler writes under the name Lemony Snicket--strange, gothic dark comedies. But this book has them all beat. He's such a good stylist that he almost convinces you that his subject matter is normal--almost. This is a very scary, very sexy and VERY strange book, but it's one of the most rewarding reads I've had in a long time. You'll never look at your family the same way again!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Melinda Burnett on April 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had no idea what to expect. As a fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events(which you should know by now is Daniel Handler's series under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket), I was expecting something similar. As a gift to myself for my 17th birthday, I bought a copy off of Amazon. When it finally arrived, I began reading, appaled at the subject matter.

This book is very shocking in it's [...]descriptions of Joseph's encounters with Cyn, Mimi, Lauren, and Allyson. Therefore, discretion is advised when buying this book. Parents, this is an ADULT BOOK and is not suitable for children.

On that note, the book is from Joseph's perspective. He is a senior at Mathers University. His girlfriend, Cyn(short for Cynthia, but the short version is humorous dramatic irony), and him go to Pittsburgh(with an 'H'), Pennsylvania to spend the summer with Cyn's family, the Glasses. Ben Glass and Mimi Glass are Cyn's parents, and Stephen is her brother.

The book is split into two sections. The first section is very sexual and very sane. I chose 'sane' because the second half is when Joseph thinks that he is losing his mind and killing the Glasses.

I would give more details about the two, but it would ruin the book.

To me, I felt like it had a surprise ending. When Joseph thinks that he is a murderer and that he imagined incest within the Glass family, he accidentally stumbles upon an old "friend" who confirms his sanity.

Everywhere that Joseph goes, coincidence follows. He just HAPPENED to go to Pittsburg(without an 'H'-in California?) where Stephen Glass fled to, as well. He just HAPPENED to find Ben Glass doing a New Self seminar in a magazine after calling a disconnected line supposedly connected to Ben. He just HAPPENED to get a job at Vast, where a horror from his past arose.

The book is amazing. I can't wait to read The Basic Eight.
Highly recommended for mature readers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a dark and elegant book, the only novel I can think of that's explicit and oblique at the same time. The plot is a pageturner that keeps its air of mystery straight up to the hilariously creepy finale. It's stupid that so many critics (both on this site and off) criticize the subject matter and the tone of the book without realizing that it's the narrator whose world view is skewed and unrelentingly sexual, not the author. I dare anyone to read this book and not find themselves thinking about it, still trying to unravel it, weeks later, unlike most praised novels which lead you to their own conclusion. For Calvino and Henry Green fans, and anyone who finds poetry in old monster movies.
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