Daniel Handler's 'Adverbs' Is An Intelligently Dark Mastermind's Stab At Love Stories
Start writing a post

If by chance, you were still engaging in the banal joy of recess in the early 2000s or are the proud moocher of a Netflix account in the modern age, odds are you are already very familiar with Daniel Handler- without having ever heard the name before. And if you fall into the former group who are no longer of an age where is it socially acceptable to be engaging in the banal joy of recess, you might want to become better acquainted with Mr. Handler. Known most famously as the “spokesperson" for the melancholy, eloquent narrator of "A Series of Unfortunate Events," Lemony Snicket, Handler reserves his own name for the adult world, churning out shockingly provocative but equally thoughtful novels such as "The Basic Eight," "All the Dirty Parts," and "Adverbs."

If, by chance, you are the type of reader who prefers a cohesive novel in which one knows precisely what is happening at any given point, well, then I strongly encourage you to put down this book and find something more simplistic, perhaps "Ulysses."

Allison might be “Soundly" or “Wrongly" or she might not be the same Allison who is drawn to Steven who might or might not be the Steven who gets injured in the woods prompting him to send Tom to look for help where he interrupts Eddie and Adam who might or might not be the same Adam who later hooks up with Thomas because there are so many Andrea's and David's and Joe's in the world that who can bother to keep track.

Confused? Well, that's Handler's interpretation of love: mismatched half-truths of misleading fragments in someone's life. It is complex and messy, and as the cover declares “it is not about the nouns. The miracle is in the adverbs, the ways things are done."

Each of the 17 vaguely-related short stories that make up this novel insists on the single declaration that 'This is Love' is written in bold letters in the subtext of each. Rightfully, the anthology of stories is a preaching tool used to declare that no two people love in the same way nor are relationships, as a loose term for human connections, a definable, clear path everyone finds themselves walking down. It is perhaps a trite moral justification for a novel, but when Handler forces you to look at love as “sitting with someone you've known forever in a place you've been meaning to go, and watching as their life happens to them until you stand up and it's time to go" love starts to become less of a plot device for teenage young adult novels and more of a complex nuisance of the human condition that happens to us while we are busy living life.

And don't think for a second that just because the umbrella theme is love, that Handler loses any of the distorted wit and dark humor that sold nearly sixty-five million copies of "A Series of Unfortunate Events." Sure, he dabbles in certain clichés that would leave the cynics gagging, however, the man knows how to turn a phrase and make you laugh when a dying woman stripteases a bartender, showing him her scar as a symbolic middle finger.

While his infamous tone remains and there is a certain allure to a majority of the stories, his touch with reality and sensibility at times falters. The glory of the way Handler sets up his novel is that one can pick and choose which stories to spend time with and which to skip without fear of missing any information (aside from the passing mention of a former character or a new analogy applied to magpies). “Briefly" is a charming, 3-page recollection of a man's first love. He accidentally hits a magpie out of the air while golfing and is thrown into a memory of a taboo feeling for his older sister's boyfriend, Keith, as he watches him step out of the shower in a locker room after a day of swimming. He explains that to him love is “this sudden crash in your path, quick and to the point, and nearly always it leaves someone slain on the greens." The story is logical and humanistic and perhaps a simple manipulation of his reader's emotion, but one that is worth accepting. There are then less readily acceptable stories like “Frigidly," in which an ice queen is being chased down by detectives in a diner while a little boy is waiting for her at the counter.

If by chance, you're inclined to follow, or not follow, the intertwining imagination of an intelligently dark mastermind's stab at love stories, "Adverbs" is a delightful sometimes-novel of the experiences that happen to our fellow nouns when we're not paying attention. Handler has created a novel that every adult should experience before the volcano under San Fran erupts to kill us all.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

7 Things Your Partner Can Do To Support You When You Have PCOS

Don't be afraid to ask for help or comfort if you need it.

1403

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may not be totally visible to the eye, which makes it a lot harder for your partner to understand what's going on with your body.

If you are in a relationship, it's important that you communicate your PCOS symptoms with your partner. I say "your" symptoms specifically because everyone's symptoms are different.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

887
The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.

4037

On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less

I was so excited to vote in my local primary election in August. I eagerly researched my local candidates, combed the newspaper for profiles and policy positions, and shared infographics on Insta about voting deadlines. I considered myself a keen voter.

Keep Reading... Show less

Nothing! There is no reason to feel guilty about food and nourishing your body. It's time to make peace with food and stop focusing on the "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong" because food does not have power over you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down With An Endocrinologist To Ask All My Questions About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

There are so many moving parts of hormonal health, so I went to an expert.

4285
Anjanette Tan

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts approximately 1 in 10 women. Any woman who has PCOS can attest to the fact that no two cases are the same — there are so many aspects of hormonal health that can impact a woman's reproductive health! For many, PCOS is a trial and error condition, with many doctors' appointments depending on the stage of life the woman is in.

This week I sat down with Dr. Anjanette Tan to get the expert opinion on all my PCOS questions. Dr. Tan is a board-certified endocrinologist who's worked in private practices since 2004. She currently works at the Diabetes and Thyroid Center of Fort Worth, one of the largest all-endocrine practices in the area, where she is the managing partner and head of clinical research.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

This $40 Silk Sleep Mask Gives Me The Best Sleep I've Ever Had — I Never Go Anywhere Without It

Crane And Canopy just redefined the meaning of "beauty sleep".

3268

- Since I can remember, I've always been a light sleeper, with the quietest sounds waking me up, and I regularly wake up with the sun.

- While talking to a gynecologist friend of mine, she mentioned the importance of using an eye mask for quality sleep, which regulates hormonal levels.

- I was serendipitously sent the Crane & Canopy Silk Sleep Mask almost right after that conversation and was honestly reluctant to try it after testing other sleep masks that felt uncomfortable and irritated my skin.

- This sleep mask was extremely comfortable, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I slept in far past when I usually do on the weekends and woke up feeling more refreshed than I can remember — I've worn it nearly every night since then.

The older I get, it seems that sleep becomes an increasingly important topic of conversation amongst my friends and me. Yes, of course we complain about how tired we always are, but the pattern seemed to be a lack of sleep on the weekdays followed by late nights and sleeping in on the weekends without any solution.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Self-Care Kit Every College Student Should Have Handy In 2020

Make sure you have everything you need to relieve some tension.

1609

As college students, sometimes life can be overwhelming. Four tests in a week and you only passed one of them? I feel that. Days like that, you just need time for yourself. A time where you're nice to yourself and put your own self-care before anything else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Smile Project Just Launched An Ambassador Program, And I Can't Wait To Get Started

Looking to shift your perspective, be happier, or just get involved in something truly amazing? Look no further.

1192

The Smile Project is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading happiness, founded by Elizabeth Buechele. It all started on a random day in the fall of her senior year. She was driving home from school when this thought crossed her mind: "Day 1: Happiness is…those perfect car rides where the radio just plays all the right songs."

Keep Reading... Show less

I'll never forget the day that someone told me these words: "Madison, I think you're a good friend to everyone but yourself." I stood there completely in awe of that statement. Before that day, I never really thought about being a friend to myself, and at the time, I didn't really know what it meant. Now, I realize that you can't fully be there for other people unless you're there for yourself, too. You can't show up for others until you're willing to show up for yourself.

Here are five things everyone should learn in order to be a better friend to themselves. These steps are hard, but they're so worth it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments