Arts & Culture News

Life Lessons from Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) and Maira Kalman

Few things are important enough to make me brave the DMA during prime Gaultier hours, but an Arts & Letters Live BooksmART appearance by Author Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket of A Series of Unfortunate Events) and illustrator Maira Kalman made wading through the fashion faux pas well worth it.

Handler and Kalman were in town to tout their newest collaboration, Why We Broke Up, which was recently named a Printz Honor book for "literary excellence in young adult literature" by the American Library Association. Written by Handler with illustrations by Kalman, the young adult novel is the story of Min Green and Ed Slaterton's break up, told through the return of items Min had collected during their relationship.

With over 40 books between the two, Handler and Kalman are well known and respected in the literary and arts scenes, and their lecture Sunday was more than just a discussion of their newest work or a pop quiz on romantics (most of us were liars, just so you know), it was a lesson about life.

Pointers the audience took away from the talk:

  • No one wants to be a "collaborator" - it makes it sound like you work with the Nazis.
  • $15 is a lot (possibly too much) to pay for an onion ring.
  • It's only natural that "bird" be followed by "despondent," as show in 13 Words
  • If it's kept clean, it's called collecting, not hoarding.
  • Beer (and making out) leads to heartbreak and despair.
  • Vladimir Mayakovsky is no Pushkin.
  • There's only one season when things fall from trees (and it's not the spring).
  • Most signs in the world could rightfully end with the line "due to human stupidity."
  • Poetry is where the real money is.
  • Romantic memory allows small objects to become magical.

If you missed your chance to see Handler and Kalman, you can still participate in The Why We Broke up Project, where you can recount your own stories and relate/recoil at the tales of others. Because unless you've never had a beer or made out with someone, you've probably fallen in love and suffered the from heartbreak too.

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Jennifer Medina