I am Daniel Handler, the author of this book. Did you know that authors often write the summaries that appear on their book's dust jacket? You might want to think about that the next time you read something like, "A dazzling page-turner, this novel shows an internationally acclaimed storyteller at the height of his astonishing powers."
Adverbs is a novel about love -- a bunch of different people, in and out of different kinds of love. At the start of the novel, Andrea is in love with David -- or maybe it's Joe -- who instead falls in love with Peter in a taxi. At the end of the novel, it's Joe who's in the taxi, falling in love with Andrea, although it might not be Andrea, or in any case it might not be the same Andrea, as Andrea is a very common name. So is Allison, who is married to Adrian in the middle of the novel, although in the middle of the ocean she considers a fling with Keith and also with Steve, whom she meets in an automobile, unless it's not the same Allison who meets the Snow Queen in a casino, or the same Steve who meets Eddie in the middle of the forest. . . .
It might sound confusing, but that's love, and as the author -- me -- says, "It is not the nouns. The miracle is the adverbs, the way things are done." This novel is about people trying to find love in the ways it is done before the volcano erupts and the miracle ends. Yes, there's a volcano in the novel. In my opinion a volcano automatically makes a story more interesting.
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." (May)
Masterful and delightful
In others's absence, I have to offer a positive review of Adverbs by Daniel Handler. It is a book I have returned to over and over for its masterful turns of phrase and deceptively casual connectivity, both to its own plot and to quite profound human insights. The "novel" is more a series of loosely overlapping vignettes that all seek to identify the concepts of "Love" from as many different angles as make sense. Some are very funny, some are sad and even frightful, some are hopeless, some are playful, many are redemptive. The real strength of the book is the way that it routinely blindsides the reader, in the middle of a nothing sentence, with a sudden marvelously new way to describe something we all recognize, but never articulate, about love, the way it's done, the people who do it, and the traces it leaves all around. If you appreciate wit, ideas, and fresh contemporary writing, definitely check this book out and let me know what you think. Happy reading!
Not the worst book I have read, but the sample was enough for me. Good descriptive words and refreshing way to write, but the stories lacked emotion. I didn't feel anything for any of the characters except boredom. The stories also seem to end abruptly.