A San Francisco writer, Daniel Handler, who went to Lowell High School the year after my youngest daughter, has become a celebrity. Handler has a movie coming out in two months based on the characters in his children’s book series (13 books) written in the pen name Lemony Snicket.
The back cover of Book One has the following: “I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children…”
Handler treats his young readers as intelligent. Here he is describing the three Baudelaire children: “…their parents gave them permission to take a rickety trolley – the word “rickety,” you probably know, here means “unsteady” or “likely to collapse” – alone to the seashore, ...”
To me the most amazing and interesting element of the Lemony Snicket series is the bad guy, Uncle Olaf. Uncle Olaf is tall, skinny, mean as hell, a theatrical person, but most importantly, he is dirty. His house is a pigsty.
Uncle Olaf is the first bad guy I can remember reading about or seeing in fiction who was dirty. Is this something new in American iconography? Dirty versus good?