Daniel Handler's 'Adverbs' Is An Intelligently Dark Mastermind's Stab At Love Stories

Daniel Handler's 'Adverbs' Is An Intelligently Dark Mastermind's Stab At Love Stories

"It is not about the nouns. The miracle is in the adverbs, the ways things are done."


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.

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14 Stages Of Buying Jonas Brothers Concert Tickets As A 20-Something In 2019

"Alexa, play "Burnin' Up" by the Jonas Brothers."


In case you missed it, the Jonas Brothers are back together and, let me tell you, they're giving us some major jams. For those of us who were there when it all began back in 2007 with their first album, It's About Time, this has been one of the most important events of the year. But nothing, and I mean nothing can rival the excitement every twenty-something felt as the Jonas Brothers announced their Happiness Begins tour. I, for one, put my name in for ticket presale, have been following every single social media site related to the tour/group, and, of course, listening to the Jonas Brothers on repeat. And if you did manage to snag tickets, then you know that this is how your brain has been ever since they announced the tour.

1. Finding out that they're going on tour

2. Hopefully entering your name into the lottery to get presale tickets

3. Finding out that you actually get to buy presale tickets

4. Impatiently waiting for your presale tickets by listening to their songs on repeat

5. And remembering how obsessed you used to be (definitely still are) with them

6. Trying to coordinate the squad to go to the concert with you

7. Waiting in the Ticketmaster waiting room...

8. ...And feeling super frantic/frustrated because there are about 2000 people in line in front of you

9. Actually getting into the site to buy the tickets

10. Frantically trying to find seats you can actually pay for because, let's be real, you're twenty-something and poor

11. Managing to actually get the seats you want

12. Joyfully letting your squad know that you've done it

13. Crying a little because all of the dreams you've had since 2007 are coming true

14. Listening to every single Jonas Brothers song on repeat (again)

If you, like me, have finally fulfilled one of your dreams since childhood, then congrats, my friend! We've made it! Honestly, of all the things I've done in my adult life, this might be the one that child me is the most proud of.

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15 Thing Only Early 2000's Kids Will Understand

"Get connected for free, with education connection"


This is it early 2000's babies, a compilation finally made for you. This list is loaded with things that will make you swoon with nostalgia.

1. Not being accepted by the late 90's kids.


Contrary to what one may think, late 90's and early 00's kids had the same childhood, but whenever a 00's kid says they remember something on an "only 90's kids will understand" post they are ridiculed.

2. Fortune tellers.


Every day in elementary school you would whip one of these bad boys out of your desk, and proceed to tell all of your classmates what lifestyle they were going to live and who they were going to marry.



You could never read this book past 8 o'clock at night out of fear that your beloved pet rabbit would come after you.

4. Silly bands.


You vividly remember begging your parents to buy you $10 worth of cheap rubber bands that vaguely resembles the shape of an everyday object.

5. Parachutes.


The joy and excitement that washed over you whenever you saw the gym teacher pull out the huge rainbow parachute. The adrenaline that pumped through your veins whenever your gym teacher tells you the pull the chute under you and sit to make a huge "fort".

6. Putty Erasers


You always bought one whenever there was a school store.

7. iPod shuffle.


The smallest, least technological iPpd apple has made, made you the coolest kid at the bus stop.

8. "Education Connection"

You knew EVERY wood to the "Education Connection" commercials. Every. Single.Word.

9. " The Naked Brothers Band"


The "Naked Brothers Band" had a short run on Nickelodeon and wrote some absolute bangers including, "Crazy Car' and "I Don't Wanna Go To School"

10. Dance Dance Revolution


This one video game caused so many sibling, friend, and parent rivalries. This is also where you learned all of your super sick dance moves.

11. Tamagotchi


Going to school with fear of your Tamagotchi dying while you were away was your biggest worry.

12. Gym Scooters


You, or somebody you know most likely broke or jammed their finger on one of these bad boys, but it was worth it.

13. Scholastic book fairs


Begging your parents for money to buy a new book, and then actually spending it on pens, pencils, erasers, and posters.



Who knew that putting yogurt in a plastic tube made it taste so much better?

15. Slap Bracelets


Your school probably banned these for being "too dangerous".

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