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Comment: Pages are crisp and clean. Cover edges are gently worn. Former library book marked as purchased from a library book store.. Library stickers on front, spine, back and inside covers. Library name stamped across top outside of pages. Scratches, dents, imperfections on back cover.
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We Are Pirates Hardcover – February 3, 2015

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Honest and funny, dark and painful, "We Are Pirates "reads like the result of a nightmarish mating experiment between Joseph Heller and Captain Jack Sparrow. It's the strangest, most brilliant offering yet from the mind behind Lemony Snicket." --Neil Gaiman "Daniel Handler [is] something like an American Nabokov." --Dave Eggers "If it's possible to be criminally underrated yet also be a millions-selling author, then Handler is it." --"The Huffington Post" "One of our most dazzling literary conjurers shuffles the deck of contemporary consciousness and desire. A thrilling feat of tragic magic." --Michael Chabon on "Adverbs""" ""Adverbs "works brilliantly and poignantly, taking its ruminations on the complexity and fallibility of love to avian heights." --"Washington Post Book World" on "Adverbs" "Gymnastic prose . . . brilliantly turned reminders that there are a million ways to describe love and none of them will be the last word." --"The New York Times Book Review "on "Adverbs""" "Witty and achingly true-to-life." --"Vanity Fair" on "Why We Broke Up" "It's . . . difficult to take such an everyday tragedy with a predictable ending and elevate it to an end point of enduring, emotionally effective art." --"Los Angeles Times "on "Why We Broke Up" "A monsterpiece of creativity, but underneath its roar and bluster beats a surprisingly gentle heart . . . . Genuinely clever [Handler is] a virtuosic and original writer." --"San Francisco Chronicle "on" Watch Your Mouth"

""We Are Pirates "will dazzle, disturb, and delight you. It might even do things to you that don't start with the letter D, like remind you what it's like to be young, or convince you that Daniel Handler can do anything." --Jess Walter, #1 "New York Times "bestselling author of "Beautiful Ruins " "Honest and funny, dark and painful, "We Are Pirates "reads like the result of a nightmarish mating experiment between Joseph Heller and Captain Jack Sparrow. It's the strangest, most brilliant offering yet from the mind behind Lemony Snicket." --Neil Gaiman "I loved it! "We Are Pirates "is extraordinary! It takes brand new shapes. And that prose is ruthless. Merciless. And then, the next second, it made me laugh out loud. Remarkable story, remarkable characters, remarkable prose. I'll carry that in my head forever." --Russell T. Davies "There is no writer quite like Daniel Handler. Somehow he manages to work at the intersection of irony and wonderment, whimsy and menace--a space I'm not sure I knew existed until I read his work." --Jennifer Egan, author of "A Visit from the Goon Squad" "Daniel Handler turns whimsy into wisdom and the fantastic into the great. He is, of course, a genius." --Lorrie Moore, author of "A Gate at the Stairs "and "Bark""" "Handler (aka children's author Lemony Snicket) has never been known for writing precisely happy novels, and his latest certainly doesn't deviate. What could easily have been a slightly silly, fantastical romp becomes, instead, in Handler's capable hands, a macabre, darkly human portrayal of family dynamics and growing up in a world running low on adventure . . . peppered with black humor." --"Booklist," starred review"" "Handler is a master at depicting the existential chaos all his major characters are living through, and with warmth, sympathy and considerable humor at that. The reader will delight in Gwen and old Errol's escapades . . . Affecting, lively and expertly told. Just the sort of thing to make grown-ups and teenagers alike want to unfurl the black flag." --"Kirkus Reviews""" "Can a couple of teenagers, a befuddled old man, and a nursing home orderly really steal a boat and wreak havoc in San Francisco harbor? Sure, says Handler, crossing and mixing genres--dark and light, YA yarn and midlife doldrum--while making readers root for his 20th-century privateers . . . A jaunty and occasionally jolting, and honest take on the discomforts of youth, midlife, and old age, and how ineffective we are at dealing with them." --"Publishers Weekly" "Daniel Handler [is] something like an American Nabokov." --Dave Eggers "If it's possible to be criminally underrated yet also be a millions-selling author, then Handler is it." --"The Huffington Post" "Dark and hilarious . . . arresting. Daniel Handler . . . is a master of quiet suspense. What drives "We Are Pirates "is a current of love and Handler's strangely beautiful ability to show how even in a chaotic world, our lives have a way of converging if only we stop to notice." --"Elle" "A witty adult novel by Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler . . . . Lemony Snicket's gothic humor lingers over this tale of upper-middle-class despair . . . [A] dark and whimsical novel . . . Yes, we are pirates, but we're chained on barren land. Has that theme ever been explored in such a weird mixture of impish wit and tender sympathy?" --"Washington Post " "Exuberant . . . Handler's a master with language, crafting showstopping sentences that are fresh and funny . . . [He gives] everything the feel of legend, a story burnished with each retelling, and gleaming with rich moral lessons . . . Although the novel is a raucously funny adventure, it's also a tragic exploration of the restlessness in all of us, of the ways we want to claim our happiness like buried treasure that might change everything. "We Are Pirates "is about how we try to forge our own destinies, and if we're lucky, become heroes of our own stories." --Caroline Leavitt, "San Francisco Chronicle " "Daniel Handler--aka Lemony Snicket--is one of the funniest people on the planet and his new novel is further evidence of his gift for offbeat, razor-sharp wit . . . "We Are Pirates "is high-flying fun and Gwen may be one of Handler's most endearing protagonists." --"San Jose Mercury News" "[A] stirring, frequently knee-slappingly funny, unexpectedly moving story." --Biography.com "Full of whimsy, adventure and intrigue. There are dastardly grown-ups and children in peril, moments of high camp and utter despair . . . Beneath all the trappings of make-believe and fancy dress, there is a poignant, serious story about a girl's need to find her true self, shackled to her desire to escape from the world--and the irreconcilable, sometimes bloody conflict between those two yearnings . . . The exhilarating sections dealing with this caper are the book's highlights, the prose full of high-blown pirate speak that does little to hide the sincerity of all those on deck." --"Daily Telegraph "(UK) "This, his fifth novel for adults, retains the whimsy, intrigue and high camp of his children's fiction . . . Silly but poignant. ****" --"Sunday Telegraph "(UK) "One of our most dazzling literary conjurers shuffles the deck of contemporary consciousness and desire. A thrilling feat of tragic magic." --Michael Chabon on "Adverbs""" "Gymnastic prose . . . brilliantly turned reminders that there are a million ways to describe love and none of them will be the last word." --"The New York Times Book Review "on "Adverbs""" ""Adverbs "works brilliantly and poignantly, taking its ruminations on the complexity and fallibility of love to avian heights." --"Washington Post Book World" on "Adverbs" "Witty and achingly true-to-life." --"Vanity Fair" on "Why We Broke Up""" "It's . . . difficult to take such an everyday tragedy with a predictable ending and elevate it to an end point of enduring, emotionally effective art." --"Los Angeles Times "on "Why We Broke Up" "A monsterpiece of creativity, but underneath its roar and bluster beats a surprisingly gentle heart . . . . Genuinely clever [Handler is] a virtuosic and original writer." --"San Francisco Chronicle "on" Watch Your Mouth"

"A witty adult novel by Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler . . . . Lemony Snicket's gothic humor lingers over this tale of upper-middle-class despair . . . [A] dark and whimsical novel . . . Yes, we are pirates, but we're chained on barren land. Has that theme ever been explored in such a weird mixture of impish wit and tender sympathy?" --"Washington Post"

"Exuberant . . . Handler's a master with language, crafting showstopping sentences that are fresh and funny . . . [He gives] everything the feel of legend, a story burnished with each retelling, and gleaming with rich moral lessons . . . Although the novel is a raucously funny adventure, it's also a tragic exploration of the restlessness in all of us, of the ways we want to claim our happiness like buried treasure that might change everything. "We Are Pirates "is about how we try to forge our own destinies, and if we're lucky, become heroes of our own stories." --"Caroline Leavitt, San Francisco Chronicle"

"Superb, written with an unflinching eye for comedy and horror." --"New York Times Book Review"

"Compelling . . . Engaging . . . Near impossible to put down." --"USA Today"

"Honest and funny, dark and painful, "We Are Pirates "reads like the result of a nightmarish mating experiment between Joseph Heller and Captain Jack Sparrow. It's the strangest, most brilliant offering yet from the mind behind Lemony Snicket." --"Neil Gaiman"

""We Are Pirates "will dazzle, disturb, and delight you. It might even do things to you that don't start with the letter D, like remind you what it's like to be young, or convince you that Daniel Handler can do anything." --"Jess Walter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins"

"There is no writer quite like Daniel Handler. Somehow he manages to work at the intersection of irony and wonderment, whimsy and menace--a space I'm not sure I knew existed until I read his work." --"Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad"

"Daniel Handler turns whimsy into wisdom and the fantastic into the great. He is, of course, a genius." --"Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs and Bark"

"Daniel Handler [is] something like an American Nabokov." --"Dave Eggers"

"I loved it! "We Are Pirates "is extraordinary! It takes brand new shapes. And that prose is ruthless. Merciless. And then, the next second, it made me laugh out loud. Remarkable story, remarkable characters, remarkable prose. I'll carry that in my head forever." --"Russell T. Davies"

"Handler (aka children's author Lemony Snicket) has never been known for writing precisely happy novels, and his latest certainly doesn't deviate. What could easily have been a slightly silly, fantastical romp becomes, instead, in Handler's capable hands, a macabre, darkly human portrayal of family dynamics and growing up in a world running low on adventure . . . peppered with black humor." --"Booklist, starred review"

"If it's possible to be criminally underrated yet also be a millions-selling author, then Handler is it." --"The Huffington Post"

"Handler is a master at depicting the existential chaos all his major characters are living through, and with warmth, sympathy and considerable humor at that. The reader will delight in Gwen and old Errol's escapades . . . Affecting, lively and expertly told. Just the sort of thing to make grown-ups and teenagers alike want to unfurl the black flag." --"Kirkus Reviews"

"Can a couple of teenagers, a befuddled old man, and a nursing home orderly really steal a boat and wreak havoc in San Francisco harbor? Sure, says Handler, crossing and mixing genres--dark and light, YA yarn and midlife doldrum--while making readers root for his 20th-century privateers . . . A jaunty and occasionally jolting, and honest take on the discomforts of youth, midlife, and old age, and how ineffective we are at dealing with them." --"Publishers Weekly"

"Dark and hilarious . . . arresting. Daniel Handler . . . is a master of quiet suspense. What drives "We Are Pirates "is a current of love and Handler's strangely beautiful ability to show how even in a chaotic world, our lives have a way of converging if only we stop to notice." --"Elle"

"Daniel Handler--aka Lemony Snicket--is one of the funniest people on the planet and his new novel is further evidence of his gift for offbeat, razor-sharp wit . . . "We Are Pirates "is high-flying fun and Gwen may be one of Handler's most endearing protagonists." --"San Jose Mercury News"

"Handler's wry prose keeps even the darkest passages from tipping off balance. The author treats language the way some treat fashion, tooling intentionally jarring or ugly phrases to striking effect." --"Kansas City Star"

"A tale that hovers somewhere between realism and fantasy. Full of sharp (and angry) observations about modern life, "We Are Pirates" is strange, dark and subversive." --"Financial Times"

"Full of whimsy, adventure and intrigue. There are dastardly grown-ups and children in peril, moments of high camp and utter despair . . . Beneath all the trappings of make-believe and fancy dress, there is a poignant, serious story about a girl's need to find her true self, shackled to her desire to escape from the world--and the irreconcilable, sometimes bloody conflict between those two yearnings . . . The exhilarating sections dealing with this caper are the book's highlights, the prose full of high-blown pirate speak that does little to hide the sincerity of all those on deck." --"Daily Telegraph (UK)"

"This, his fifth novel for adults, retains the whimsy, intrigue and high camp of his children's fiction . . . Silly but poignant. ****" --"Sunday Telegraph (UK)"

"Displaying typically impudent imagination, Handler choreographs this quixotic whimsy with a dexterous touch and flashes of wit." --"Sunday Times (UK)"

"Sails against readerly expectation to brilliant effect. Gloriously cut loose from much in the current book market, "We Are Pirates" is a pirate adventure for grown-ups set in modern-day San Francisco . . . It is a swashbuckling, wonderfully eccentric message in a bottle for those seeking a social order beyond the realm of traditional authority . . . Handler's yarn, replete with as many twists and turns as the classic pirate stories, captivates from start to finish, but it is his stylistic exploration of the piratical yen for elsewhere which most cleverly shanghais the imagination." --"The Independent on Sunday (UK)"

A witty adult novel by Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler . . . . Lemony Snicket's gothic humor lingers over this tale of upper-middle-class despair . . . [A] dark and whimsical novel . . . Yes, we are pirates, but we're chained on barren land. Has that theme ever been explored in such a weird mixture of impish wit and tender sympathy? "Washington Post"

Exuberant . . . Handler's a master with language, crafting showstopping sentences that are fresh and funny . . . [He gives] everything the feel of legend, a story burnished with each retelling, and gleaming with rich moral lessons . . . Although the novel is a raucously funny adventure, it's also a tragic exploration of the restlessness in all of us, of the ways we want to claim our happiness like buried treasure that might change everything. "We Are Pirates "is about how we try to forge our own destinies, and if we're lucky, become heroes of our own stories. "Caroline Leavitt, San Francisco Chronicle"

Superb, written with an unflinching eye for comedy and horror. "New York Times Book Review"

Compelling . . . Engaging . . . Near impossible to put down. "USA Today"

Honest and funny, dark and painful, "We Are Pirates "reads like the result of a nightmarish mating experiment between Joseph Heller and Captain Jack Sparrow. It's the strangest, most brilliant offering yet from the mind behind Lemony Snicket. "Neil Gaiman"

"We Are Pirates "will dazzle, disturb, and delight you. It might even do things to you that don't start with the letter D, like remind you what it's like to be young, or convince you that Daniel Handler can do anything. "Jess Walter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins"

There is no writer quite like Daniel Handler. Somehow he manages to work at the intersection of irony and wonderment, whimsy and menace--a space I'm not sure I knew existed until I read his work. "Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad"

Daniel Handler turns whimsy into wisdom and the fantastic into the great. He is, of course, a genius. "Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs and Bark"

Daniel Handler [is] something like an American Nabokov. "Dave Eggers"

I loved it! "We Are Pirates "is extraordinary! It takes brand new shapes. And that prose is ruthless. Merciless. And then, the next second, it made me laugh out loud. Remarkable story, remarkable characters, remarkable prose. I'll carry that in my head forever. "Russell T. Davies"

Handler (aka children's author Lemony Snicket) has never been known for writing precisely happy novels, and his latest certainly doesn't deviate. What could easily have been a slightly silly, fantastical romp becomes, instead, in Handler's capable hands, a macabre, darkly human portrayal of family dynamics and growing up in a world running low on adventure . . . peppered with black humor. "Booklist, starred review"

If it's possible to be criminally underrated yet also be a millions-selling author, then Handler is it. "The Huffington Post"

Handler is a master at depicting the existential chaos all his major characters are living through, and with warmth, sympathy and considerable humor at that. The reader will delight in Gwen and old Errol's escapades . . . Affecting, lively and expertly told. Just the sort of thing to make grown-ups and teenagers alike want to unfurl the black flag. "Kirkus Reviews"

Can a couple of teenagers, a befuddled old man, and a nursing home orderly really steal a boat and wreak havoc in San Francisco harbor? Sure, says Handler, crossing and mixing genres--dark and light, YA yarn and midlife doldrum--while making readers root for his 20th-century privateers . . . A jaunty and occasionally jolting, and honest take on the discomforts of youth, midlife, and old age, and how ineffective we are at dealing with them. "Publishers Weekly"

Dark and hilarious . . . arresting. Daniel Handler . . . is a master of quiet suspense. What drives "We Are Pirates "is a current of love and Handler's strangely beautiful ability to show how even in a chaotic world, our lives have a way of converging if only we stop to notice. "Elle"

Daniel Handler--aka Lemony Snicket--is one of the funniest people on the planet and his new novel is further evidence of his gift for offbeat, razor-sharp wit . . . "We Are Pirates "is high-flying fun and Gwen may be one of Handler's most endearing protagonists. "San Jose Mercury News"

Handler's wry prose keeps even the darkest passages from tipping off balance. The author treats language the way some treat fashion, tooling intentionally jarring or ugly phrases to striking effect. "Kansas City Star"

A tale that hovers somewhere between realism and fantasy. Full of sharp (and angry) observations about modern life, "We Are Pirates" is strange, dark and subversive. "Financial Times"

Full of whimsy, adventure and intrigue. There are dastardly grown-ups and children in peril, moments of high camp and utter despair . . . Beneath all the trappings of make-believe and fancy dress, there is a poignant, serious story about a girl's need to find her true self, shackled to her desire to escape from the world--and the irreconcilable, sometimes bloody conflict between those two yearnings . . . The exhilarating sections dealing with this caper are the book's highlights, the prose full of high-blown pirate speak that does little to hide the sincerity of all those on deck. "Daily Telegraph (UK)"

This, his fifth novel for adults, retains the whimsy, intrigue and high camp of his children's fiction . . . Silly but poignant. **** "Sunday Telegraph (UK)"

Displaying typically impudent imagination, Handler choreographs this quixotic whimsy with a dexterous touch and flashes of wit. "Sunday Times (UK)"

Sails against readerly expectation to brilliant effect. Gloriously cut loose from much in the current book market, "We Are Pirates" is a pirate adventure for grown-ups set in modern-day San Francisco . . . It is a swashbuckling, wonderfully eccentric message in a bottle for those seeking a social order beyond the realm of traditional authority . . . Handler's yarn, replete with as many twists and turns as the classic pirate stories, captivates from start to finish, but it is his stylistic exploration of the piratical yen for elsewhere which most cleverly shanghais the imagination. "The Independent on Sunday (UK)""

About the Author

Daniel Handler is the author of the novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, Adverbs, and Why We Broke Up. As Lemony Snicket, he is responsible for many books for children, including the thirteen-volume sequence A Series of Unfortunate Events and the four-book series All The Wrong Questions. He is married to the illustrator Lisa Brown, and lives with her and their son in San Francisco.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First American Edition edition (February 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608196887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608196883
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Theoden Humphrey VINE VOICE on April 4, 2015
Format: Hardcover
That's it. I'm never reading a sad book again.

I don't know how people do it. How do you all read literary classics and modern mainstream novels, and enjoy them? How do you read them one after another? I mean, John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors, but how do you go from Of Mice and Men to The Grapes of Wrath without reading, say, The Hobbit in between? I can't do that. I've tried for years, I have a degree in literature, I'm an English teacher, I'm a book reader and reviewer, and an author: I know that there is a certain prestige that attaches to the great novels, and almost every one of them is sad, is tragic. But I just can't do it any more.

I got this book because I loved the Lemony Snickett books, and because I love pirates. Stupid, I know; but why not? The Series of Unfortunate Events (Also sad -- I'm aware that I should have paid more attention to the very obvious clues) was genuinely well written, and pirates are not only fun (But also sad: because the average lifespan for a Caribbean pirate was about two years, before they died of disease, alcoholism, or a "short drop followed by a sudden stop." Like I said: many clues.) but also fascinating, because they represent savagery, and also egalitarianism, among other things. Escape, and rebellion, and a final middle finger to a cruel world.

This book was exactly that. Daniel Handler captured not only the world of the pirate, the anger, the pain, the fight against all conformity and thus against all society and even against humanity itself; he also captured the modern world -- and thus made me long to be the pirate, even while I sorrowed for those following that path, pitied them their rage and their pain.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have been waiting for this weird and wonderful work to be published for years. Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite book of all time is Daniel Handler’s Adverbs, and while We Are Pirates is entirely different, it’s packed full of all the usual things that make Handler’s work brilliant. Powerful, funny prose that catches you by surprise with its unique ability to frame reality, a collection of believable characters that still somehow verges on the absurd—and, most importantly, an unusual, whimsical premise that gives the reader a view of our world via a lens of the extraordinary.

Troubled by parental oppression and plagued by the urge to plunder, fourteen-year-old Gwen Needle gathers an Alzheimer’s patient, a lovestruck boy, a Haitian nursing home attendant, and her new best friend into a group of pirates—real pirates, attacking and pillaging from their stolen ship in the San Francisco Bay. Meanwhile, her father is struggling to pitch an idea for a radio show, resist the temptation of his young assistant, and, hopefully, get his daughter home safely.

As a longtime fan of Handler’s, I appreciate the subtleties in this novel more than anything else. Handler has this delicious habit of creating inside jokes with the reader by reusing phrases, imagery, and snippets of dialogue, all while hearkening back to traditional pirate lore and dropping in other relevant allusions.

For example, the two teenage girls (those “wenches”) often encourage one another with a hearty “verily” during their exploits. Whenever possible, everyday situations are likened to life on the high seas in unexpected, sometimes ridiculous, but always enlightening ways.
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Format: Hardcover
I love Daniel Handler/Lemony Snickett, so I was very excited to read this book. And the blurb promises a fun and quirky read. But this was a big disappointment.

Gwen is a pissy (and typical) fourteen-year-old. She fights loudly and frequently with her mom. She gets caught shop-lifting and is forced to volunteer at an old-folks’ home as penance. She has an unrequited crush on a cute boy. She has a mean best friend. Just when things are seeming super tragic for Gwen, she meets a new friend. Together they convince an old guy and an orderly from the home to hit the high seas for adventure, plundering, mayhem . . . and even murder.

The Gwen part of the book is actually pretty good. It is exciting, surprising, silly, and sad. But Gwen’s story is only half of the book. The other half focuses on her dad, Phil, a radio producer in an unhappy marriage who fantasizes about his new assistant and dreams of making a hit radio show about an obscure old musician. Phil is clueless and sad and a big loser. Unlike Gwen, he is not a sympathetic character. At all. I didn’t care a bit about Phil or his misadventures or his bad decisions.

There are moments in this book that have the distinct Handler/Snicket writing style that I love (little witty quirks and funny one-liners), but, in large part, the book is jumbled and messy. It inexplicably starts after the piracy has taken place, which is confusing and serves no purpose. It unsuccessfully jumps from one point-of-view (or place in time) to another rapidly, jerkily, and without context—sometimes mid-paragraph. There were several instances when I had to re-read paragraphs to understand what the hell was going on. There seems to be little change or resolution with the characters.
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