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The elusive Mr. Snicket

Don't expect the author at this book signing, but his (wink-wink) 'representative' will explain everything.

September 25, 2003|Susan Carpenter | Times Staff Writer

If you are interested in reading newspaper articles with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other article. Lemony Snicket, the elusive author of the junior fiction "Series of Unfortunate Events," will not be attending his reading Friday at Vroman's Bookstore.

His representative Daniel Handler will be, however. And he'd be more than happy to explain whatever bizarre misfortune has befallen Snicket, as well as to hand stamp copies of "The Slippery Slope" (the newly released 10th book in the series) and to play the Baudelaire orphan theme song, "Scream and Run Away," on his accordion.

"Mr. Snicket is just about always unable to make these events due usually to an injury from a small creature," explained Handler, who is said to look and sound remarkably like Snicket but, of course, could not possibly be.

In the past, spider and shark bites have detained Snicket. So have occasional, if extraordinarily rare meteor showers. It's unknown what will prevent him from attending the reading at Vroman's.

What is known is that several hundred young and not-so-young children (i.e. adults) will mob the place, and that extra sales clerks (in smocks decorated with pins that read "Stop Snicket!") will be on hand to greet the author's multitudinous adoring fans, to direct them toward copies of his books and to shuttle the first 10 novice accordionists who show up and perform to the front of what will no doubt be a very long line to meet the evasive writer's representative.

Since 1999, when Snicket released the first of what is planned to be a 13-book series, millions have read the sad story of the three Baudelaire siblings. Orphaned when their parents died in a fire, they are constantly evading their uncle Count Olaf, a money-grubbing thespian with a single eyebrow and an ankle tattoo who, in each book, attempts to swindle the kids out of their family fortune.

Fans who'd like to help the orphans in their attempts to thwart the evil Olaf will have the chance to get an up-close and personal look at the Snicket villain in "wanted" posters hanging throughout the store.

"He's on the loose, and we're trying to catch him," confirmed Vroman's children's department manager, Nicole White. "He is, of course, a fugitive, so if you catch word of his whereabouts, please alert the authorities."

Readers will also have the opportunity to find out what wicked scheme Olaf's concocted in "The Slippery Slope," a tale that involves a frozen waterfall, a toboggan, a swarm of snow gnats, a covered casserole dish and a secret message that can be pieced together from words and letters "plucked from here and there to spell out a message that people will not want to hear anyway," according to Handler. The book also includes "the return of several characters whom the Baudelaires never expected to see again," he said, "and two fearsome villains whom no one has ever seen before."

Impatient and curious readers who have already finished book 10 may be interested in finding out what fate has in store for the Baudelaires in No. 11, but they will have to wait. Snicket has already begun work on the next book. Handler will not reveal the title and certainly no telling details, only that "it takes place in a place that is extremely damp."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Keep an eye out for this character

Count Olaf is on the loose. If you know of his whereabouts, please contact the proper authorities. Here's what we know about him:

Age: Old enough to know better

Occupation: Actor/murderer

Distinguishing characteristics: One eyebrow, tattoo of an eye on his ankle

Favorite hobby: Snatching fortunes from small children

Favorite book: "How I Snatched the Baudelaire Fortune" by Count Olaf (still being written)

Least favorite color: Anything clean

Least favorite food: Anything he had to buy and cook himself

Fond hope: To increase his personal fortune, preferably at the expense of others

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Lemony Snicket

What: Reading from "A Series of Unfortunate Events"

Where: Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

When: Friday, 6 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: (626) 449-5320

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