One of my new favorite ways to exercise at the gym is to read while using the recumbent exercise bike. This is especially good considering that the TVs at the gym are normally only on CNN and ESPN (I would be grateful for ESPN if it were baseball season, but it is not). Last Sunday morning, I sat down on the bike, set up my program (Hills Plus, Interval), and settled into the beginning of The End by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler). And then a woman sat down on the bike next to me.
"Is that the last one?" she asked.
"Yes," I said.
"I read some of the earlier ones. But I just can't get passed how depressing they are."
Hmm, I thought. I mean, the books are dark, but we're not talking anywhere near Six Feet Under: Season Five depressing. Or even 5 minutes of CNN depressing. In fact, they're very humorous (in a unusual and intelligent sort of way). And they're full of writing like this:
They found some of their least favorite spices, including dried parsely, which scarcely tastes like anything, and garlic salt, which forces the taste of everything else to flee. They found spices they associated with certain dishes, such as turmeric, which their father used to use while making curried peanut soup, and nutmeg, which their mother used to mix into gingerbread, and they found spices they did not associate with anything, such as marjoram, which everyone owns but scarcely anyone uses, and powdered lemon peel, which should only be used in emergencies, such as when fresh lemons have become extinct.
The way Handler tells his stories is part of the enjoyment of reading these books. And ending a 13-book series that has a dedicated fan base isn't easy. Wrap things up too easily and you'll satisfy some and annoy others. The same would be true for leaving things too open ended. Simply put, we find out some answers and we are left with some questions, which really does follow the spirit of the rest of the books.
Next book up: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brain Wansink