In his new book, The Dark, Lemony Snicket, a.k.a. Daniel Handler, writes, "You might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of you.'' Then he lures a young boy named Lazlo through some spooky scenarios. But don't despair; as he did in his 13 books known collectively as A Series of Unfortunate Events, Handler doesn't just scare the bejeebers out of young readers, he also continues to make them smile. For adults looking for a few laughs, Handler is the co-creator of the website whywebrokeupproject.com, which invites the heartbroken to share their worst breakup stories with the world. If they're lucky, they'll receive a reply from Handler himself.
What's on your nightstand?
I am currently reading Christoph Hein's The Tango Player, a wickedly Kafka-esque novel I wholeheartedly recommend, and Matthew Dickman's latest collection of poetry, Mayakovsky's Revolver, which keeps making me cry.
What was the scariest book you have ever read?
Angelina at the Palace, starring the horrifying Angelina Ballerina.
How old were you?
I was 36.
How did you shake off the fear, and would you recommend the same tactic to a child who is scared after reading one of your books?
I told my 3-year-old that the book was a library book that had to be returned tomorrow, and that no copies were available to purchase, so it was impossible to have Angelina at the Palace in our home ever again. Then I put him to bed and mixed a martini. ... Children should not mix themselves martinis (after reading a Lemony Snicket story). They should mix them for any adults who happen to be around, which is a much more worthwhile activity than indulging in the work of Lemony Snicket.
You've got this crazy website about breaking up. What's your favorite book when it comes to romance or a love story?
Lolita always moves me, although the ending of Tom Drury's The Driftless Area, in which the doomed ne'er-do-well and the ghost of an arson victim must part ways, is its own special heartbreak.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer