Adverbs, Daniel Handler

Love has always been an interesting topic to write about. As complicated and as old as it is, it remains as our common denominator. In varying degrees and types, loves binds us, or in Daniel Handler’s Adverbs, loves is a universal action.

Handler, more popular by his pen name Lemony Snickett of the Series of Unfortunate Events, takes love as a verb and not just a noun. Thus, Adverb is his take on love and the 17 ways we well, love.

(As much as I cringe with my every repeat of the word love, this particular blog entry will be bombarded with the said word. Er, sorry. If it helps though, I shiver and cringe with you.)

Billed as a novel, but arrives more of a collection of connected short stories, Adverbs feels like a montage of well, love stories of different characters, sometimes with the same name. Sounds crazy and difficult, right? But more than just each story revolving around love (PLEASE, someone give me another word for love), one common factor with each is the sad ending with a broken love. (LOVE IS ANNOYING ME.)

I am yet to read The Series of Unfortunate Events, but I have heard that Snickett, or in this case, Handler has such an efficient writing style that has managed to convey the emotions to the readers. In his take on an adult topic such as love, it is safe to say that he has maintained his standards with his writing style with effective word play,

“You’re a ghost!” Eddie cried. “You’re empty and have nothing inside you. I am tired of men I have to shape into something.”


Boys, like Frank Sinatra they’d have a few.


Take your girlfriend with the boy’s name and fuck her in the fucking woods if it’s a free country.

the right mix with mush, wit, and sarcasm to exude pheromones to geeks and dorks, ahem,

It is not the diamonds or the birds, the people or the potatoes, it is not any of the nouns. The miracle is the adverbs, the way things are done. It is the way love gets done despite every catastrophe, and look–actually look!–the potatoes have arrived!

and let these minds go wild in such powerful introduction of a short story,

This part is a love story forgotten by its characters. If you were to ask them about it, any of them who are still alive, they would remember it again, but not all of it. They would each remember a few details, separate from one another, but the people in this story do not see each other anymore. They have faded even from one another’s sleep. No matter where their minds wander, those who are still alive, these people do not cross each other’s paths. All four of them have completely abandoned one another.

Love has always been mushy and I find a few writers who manage to write about love, but not overload it with cheese. LOL, sounds like pizza to me. Handler handled the topic very er, maturely. It was not cushioned with the overwhelming ideas of romantic dinners, or the usual boy meets girl yadda yadda. It was more of hmmm, refreshing to see how different each story was.

For one, my favorite was Collectively. The title was a giveaway. A person being loved by many, Handler had his way about it being somehow a dark comedy. It was about a man who was so lovable, he had various strangers literally wanting to get to know him, just because he was well, lovable.

It’s just that I think you’re totally super and I want to get to know you.

Imagine that being thrown at you by some random stranger, or creepier, by the guy who delivers your mail everyday. The setting was very surreal, and while reading, I had a Tim Burton film running in my head. Even after the super awesome, fantastic guy had his emotional speech about not being what these random people thought he was, that he was not the a PowerPuff Girl “made of sugar, spice, and everything nice,” but instead being a RowdyRuff Boy who was “made of rats and snails and puppy-dog tails,” the people refused to budge and continue exclaiming how much they love him.

It was like once they have admitted to themselves that they are indeed in love, they turn blind. Thus, the cliche, love is blind.

Adverbs was an adventure into 17 different love stories, all ending with a broken heart. Most of them were good, but in the latter part of the book, fine, novel, I found myself hurrying to finish reading the novel. I felt lost in the last three stories, just like how I felt while reading the first few chapters of the book. I am not quite sure if it was laziness or more of excitement to read the The Graduate, which was next in my reading list, but it had become a passive reading. It was sad, really, but I feel that it could be because Handler was talking of a matter not close to my heart.

Nevertheless, it was one fun and ride to get to know these characters and their different lives and loves. One sure thing though, I wish someone as witty as Daniel Handler would sweep me off my feet and make this book closer to my heart.

I hailed him, my active mountain, my hole in the sidewalk that led to the center of the world. I knew if I waved long enough he would pull me over and take me where I wanted to go.

She’s a smoker. A smoker, and she’s got a dream, and I think I might vanish if I don’t find those goddamn keys in a ring if you know what I mean.

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