Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

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Lemony Snicket, Author and Fugitive


This obituary is filled with errors - most importantly - I AM NOT DEAD!
—L. S.

Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography is one of the supplementary materials for A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The story begins with a packet of information on reclusive author and fugitive Lemony Snicket changing hands from the aunt of a gentleman, to aforementioned gentleman, to another gentleman as he has no nieces or nephews, to a woman, to a doorman, and then to the people who later gave it to Daniel Handler, who gives the introduction to the Autobiography.

Divided into thirteen chapters entitled with questions, which are promptly scratched out and replaced with more relevant (though less illuminating) questions, it answers none of them. However, it does offer a lot of behind-the-scenes information on Lemony Snicket and the V.F.D. as a whole. As it was published before the completion of A Series of Unfortunate Events, yet dropped several well-buried hints, extremely careful readers were spoiled for the end of the series.

Tropes used in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography include:
  • Arc Words: The pledge of VFD, "The World is Quiet Here".
  • All There in the Manual: For readers who don't mind digging a little.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Often. A photograph of a baby labelled "Who took this?" is one of the earlier ones. Whether "this" refers to the photograph, or the baby, is unclear.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: The members of V.F.D. are scrupulously polite and formal. Mr. Snicket, for example, always uses the phrase "engaged to be married" rather than simply "engaged". The only people who avert this are the villains.
  • Bait and Switch: A letter from the Duchess R is accompanied by an unlabeled photograph of herself with Mr. Snicket's sister. Along with another unlabeled picture, which they told everyone was of them, but really wasn't.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Not in the exact order. A V.F.D. member lists address books, blueprints, and coffee grinders. Said member proceeds to mention false address books, false blueprints, and false coffee grinders.
  • Clandestine Cover: Some forms of the hardcover version had a dust-jacket which could be reversed to a cover for The Littlest Elf; other forms had a jacket that reversed to the cover of the first book in a fictional series, The Luckiest Kids in the World.
  • Dissimile: Riddled with them.

Today was a very cold and bitter day, as cold and bitter as a cup of hot chocolate, if the cup of hot chocolate had vinegar added to it and were placed in a refrigerator for several hours.

  • Double Entendre: Several, most notably "theatrical critic" in regards to Mr. Snicket, which could refer to his subject of criticism or his dramatic personality.
  • The Faceless: Photographs of Mr. Snicket never reveal his face.
  • Footnote Fever: The index is full of cross-references.

Disguise Training, Phase Two. See Disguise Training, Phase One
Disguise Training, Phase One. See disguises
disguises. See noble causes
noble causes. See necessary evils
necessary evils. See moral uncertainty
moral uncertainty. See villainy
villainy. See conspiracies
conspiracies. See overall feeling of doom
overall feeling of doom. See doom, overall feeling of
doom, overall feeling of, ix-211

  • Grammar Nazi: Usually in conjunction with Ambiguous Syntax. Another editor's note stated that "Some of the photographs in this book were taken by Julie Blattberg", which was promptly followed by a note from Mr. Snicket reading:

To My Kind Editor,
Please rewrite another editor's note to read as follows:
Some of the photographs in this book were not taken by Julie Blattberg.
-LS

  • Last-Name Basis: While the letter supposedly from the Duchess R of Winnipeg is riddled with things she would never say, Mr. Snicket never comments on a dear friend of the family calling him "Mr. Snicket".
  • Lemony Narrator: But of course.
  • Long List: Several, most notably the one in the transcript of a V.F.D. meeting recited by a nine-year-old member:

R: If these young people are up all night, helping us move all of the novels, sleeping bags, decanters, cameras, files, disguise kits, maps, coffee grinders, blueprints, codebooks, fishing rods, notebooks, false menus, briefcases, corkscrews, bird guides, office supplies, goldfish bowls, false maps, garden hoses, magnifying glasses, musical instruments, nets, electrical cords, jewelry, toolboxes, spectroscopes, projectors, pet food, heavy winter coats, playing cards, curtains, caviar spoons, lockpicks, ropes, folding tables and ottomans, dictionaries and atlases, cages, chopsticks, bicycles, grappling hooks, sailing equipment, tin cans, storage tanks, false address books, false blueprints, telegraph devices, smoke canisters, building facades, false coffee grinders, disguise kits--
J: You already said disguise kits.

  • Master of Disguise: Parodied with the Disguise portion of the volunteer training programme. Phase One: Veiled Facial Disguises is simply one person with different expressions. In Phase Two: Various Finery Disguises, a photo of a volunteer, B, with "her actual face and regular clothing"--an attractive young woman in elaborate gypsy attire--is accompanied by a picture of an old man. The label describes B (now calling herself D) as completely unrecognizable with the Various Finery Disguises. Particularly with the older gentleman standing in front of her.
  • Mistaken For Arsonist: Mr. Snicket.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Specifically, the transcript of the meeting of the "Building Committee". Even the narrator didn't know of some issues being discussed, and he was technically in attendance.
  • Only Known by Initials: This results in complications during role-calls.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Mr. Snicket, who had the curious experience of attending his own funeral.
  • Scrapbook Story: Filled with photographs, maps, pamphlets, diary entries, ticket stubs, letters, drawings, transcripts, pages from screenplays, newspaper articles, invitations, sheet music, pages from books, and various other paraphernalia.
  • Secret Society Group Picture: The Second Annual Code-Breaking Picnic.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Or, rather, errors.
  • Something They Would Never Say: A letter, supposedly sent from the Duchess R, is filled with errors that she would never have made. Or, errors she might have made as a coded signal that all was not well. Or, errors she might have made due to disruptions in her training which were caused by constant moving of the V.F.D. Headquarters.
  • Song Parody: Sharp-eyed musicians will note that "The Little Snicket Lad" is set to the music of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".
  • Understatement: Many.
  • The Un-Reveal: On the last page, a photograph is burnt to a crisp. The index labels it Beatrice.
  • Readers Are Geniuses
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: The members of V.F.D. in general, as exemplified in the transcript of a VFD meeting:

R: I'm nine years old, but I'm concerned that this kind of disruption will seriously affect our younger members.

    • A photograph, labeled with the name of film director and doctor Gustav Sebald beginning work on the snowman featured in Zombies In The Snow, depicts a young child building a snowman. Whether this is an error or an indication that he directed more than 17 films and earned a doctorate before puberty is unclear, as the members of V.F.D. are quite intelligent.