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Novelist Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) is the talented author of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a tale of rollicking disaster that’s hugely popular with the eight to 11-year-old set.
In an interview with editor Nadine Epstein in this month’s Moment: Jewish Politics, Culture, Religion magazine, Handler confesses to being raised in a Jewish household where “all major holidays and rituals were kept up but we occasionally lapsed on Sukkot and could never remember what Sh’imini Atzeret was for.”
Here’s more good humor from the interview itself:
How did being brought up Jewish affect you as a writer?
…certainly it would have been really surprising if I grew up to be a cardinal, with my Jewish upbringing. But I think there’s a certain sensibility that that kind of Jewish household can exhibit and that probably shows in my writing. There’s a great deal of guilt and wringing of hands in A Series of Unfortunate Events. That’s very Jewish.
Was there a lot of guilt and wringing of hands when you were growing up?
There weren’t any major catastrophes in my family while I was a child, but there was the usual Jewish angst that pervades even the heathiest households.
Is the world in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” a world without God?
God is not a character in A Series of Unfortunate Events. The narrator mentions at one point that the characters often felt as if there was something powerful over them which made no move to help them and was perhaps even laughing at their misfortune. But whether that person was God or the author is up for grabs.