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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket 
25th-Jun-2006 08:10 pm
Cissy Green
What a pleasure to find children's literature that doesn't require an off switch to be ethically tolerable! And, to think, it's being published by HarperCollins (aka book division of the Rupert Murdoch Empire)! >_<

Snicket, Lemony. The Austere Academy. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.
Summary: Book the Fifth of A Series of Unfortunate Events. With illustrations by Brett Helquist. The Baudelaire children are sent off to boarding school where they are of course treated to arbitrary cruelties. But that's nothing in comparison to Count Olaf's evilness as "Coach Genghis." This time, though the children make friends of the Quagmire triplets (or, rather, the two of three that are left), it isn't enough, and their friends are taken away as Olaf makes his escape once more.
Comments: The boarding school story--a staple of children's literature. However, the author naturally gives it his own gothic flair; the school's motto is "Memento Mori" and its buildings shaped like tombstones. The metaphor goes no further (though the image alone is delightful enough). Instead, we get the vice principal of Prufrock Prep, Nero, who has got to be the most ANNOYING man in the series thus far. Also, for the first time in the series, events in this book--the kidnapping of the Quagmires and their discovery while researching that they are unable to communicate to the Baudelaires before being carried off--will have specific ramifications in later installments. I'm becoming most eager to see how the author ties together the story of the children with the "author" Lemony Snicket's backstory...it's becoming ever more clear that he has a vested interest in telling their tale and that it has something to do with his lost love Beatrice. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I really am impressed. The author (the actual writer, not "Lemony Snicket") has written a delightful series that actually masks tremendous, thoroughly thought-out narrative complexity.
Notes: hardcover, 1st edition, 34th printing
Rating: 5.5/10 - Just keep reading, just keep reading, just keep reading...(Yes, I'm channeling Dory. ^_~ )
26th-Jun-2006 01:01 am (UTC)
I love that you love them.

Are you planning to read Lemony Snicket's autobiography?
26th-Jun-2006 01:15 am (UTC)
Are you planning to read Lemony Snicket's autobiography?

I dunno. Do you think I should? ^__^

(P.S. Just saw the your post. YATTA!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^__________^ )
26th-Jun-2006 01:20 am (UTC)
The books give clues and the autobiography gives clues... and hell, the duskjacket alone is worth the autobiography. "The Luckiest Kids in the World" is on the other side of the regular one. Brilliant stuff. It also explores the whole what is the VFD thing.

Thanks. :) Now I just need to figure out how to fund, aside from loans, said degree. :/ But otherwise I feel good. ;-) I got into the best university in Australia. Who woulda thunk it?
26th-Jun-2006 01:25 am (UTC)
As I continue to read, I become more and more impressed by what the author is trying to accomplish here.

(I don't suppose Beatrice is the Baudelaire children's mother? Nah, that's too easy... :P )

I got into the best university in Australia. Who woulda thunk it?

It's giving you the education and qualifications that you want, which is the most important thing. ^_^
26th-Jun-2006 01:29 am (UTC)
I don't know who Beatrice is because it has been a while since I read them. But she's intriguing. As are the children's parents.

Education is good. Qualifications... no clue what I'd do with them. But still fun to get. :)
26th-Jun-2006 01:31 am (UTC)
I don't know who Beatrice is because it has been a while since I read them.

Beatrice is the one the author's dedicating all the books to--his lost love, I'm presuming.

Education is good. Qualifications... no clue what I'd do with them. But still fun to get. :)

I'm so glad (proud to know you and, I admit it, envious) that you don't have to compromise your research interests. ^__^
26th-Jun-2006 01:49 am (UTC)
Yeah. I got that but I never figured out who she is in the context of the broader story.

I'd have gone for a job or done another degree and reapplied next year if I had not gotten in. Because I want that subject that much. It is so fascinating to me and has been for years. And I had annoying people asking me why I wasn't doing that as a disseration. It all makes me happy. :)

And I take it no more luck with the book studies program near you? :( And no good UK schools that match up? University of East London has what looks like people doing book studies... and yeah. I try to keep eyes open for you.
26th-Jun-2006 01:35 am (UTC)
Dory rocks ^__^
26th-Jun-2006 01:37 am (UTC)
lotustea actually recognized the allusion. ^___^
26th-Jun-2006 01:39 am (UTC)

I recognized it the first time you used it, I just didn't say so ^^;;;
26th-Jun-2006 01:44 am (UTC)
You should speak up, then. ^_~ How else can you take credit for it?
26th-Jun-2006 01:48 am (UTC)
I even watched that movie on the plane going to Vienna, thought the lady next to me thought I was nuts and said it was a children's movie ^_^;; It was cool too, you could switch between 4 or 5 different languages ^__^
26th-Jun-2006 01:52 am (UTC)
You could've told her that it was one of those all-ages Summer Blockbusters. ^_~

Actually, I'm embarrassingly addicted to Shrek. I always cry when I watch it. :P
26th-Jun-2006 01:57 am (UTC)
She didn't actually speak English, it seemed to be a great effort for her to get the words together to make fun of me >_< I've never seen Shrek ^_^;;
1st-Jul-2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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