Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The End ****
"...But there was something very, very sinister about Count Olaf's words. Listening to him talk felt like standing on the edge of a deep well, or walking on a high cliff in the dead of night, or listening to a strange rustling sound outside your bedroom window, knowing that at any moment something dangerous and enormous could happen. It made the Baudelaires think of that terrible question mark on the radar screen of the Queequeg--a secret so gigantic and important that it could not fit in their hearts and minds, something that had been hidden their entire lives and might destroy their entire lives once it was revealed. It was not a secret the Baudelaire orphans wanted to hear, from Count Olaf or from anyone else, and although it felt like a secret that could not be avoided, the children wanted to avoid it anyway, and without another word to the man in the cage the three siblings stood up and walked around the cube of books until they were at the far end, where Olaf and his bird cage could not be seen. Then, in silence, the three siblings sat back down, leaned against the strange raft, and stared out at the flat horizon of the sea, trying not to think about what Olaf had said..."

It is passages like this that elevate A Series of Unfortunate Events to a higher level of literature. This ability to convey the sense of dread and awe when we think about "that terrible question mark" and yet leave the reader an escape, a brief glimmer of hope. Sure, all the loose ends and tangents scattered throughout the 13 novels are not resolved here. But are they ever in real life?

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