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  • Writer's picturecharlottelzang

Book Review of Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket


My Rating:

This book is about bewilderment, a word which here means “the feeling of being bewildered,” and “bewildered” is a word which here means “you don’t have any idea what is happening,” and “you” is a word which doesn’t just mean you. It means everyone.

Lemony Snicket returns with Poison For Breakfast, a tiny marvel of thoughts, philosophy, and the mess of human life.

“Everything in this book is true, by which that I mean it all really happened…” kickstarts a story that reads like the softly rolling hills of the English countryside, or the breeze blowing across the ocean, cooling your hot skin and wafting the tall dune grasses in mimic of the crashing waves. 

It is a story about poison, and poems, and bread, and honey, and Sanskrit, and imaginary conversations, and ideals, and morals, and happiness, and the perfect breakfast. Lemony Snicket – a word which here means the pseudonym for Daniel Handler – brings his whimsy and his way with words into a pleasant dose of philosophical insight. 

Nobody knows anything at all. We have no idea what is happening. We are all bewildered.

Regarding how we should treat one another, where we should be more observant of the world around us, why we can’t seem to change the atrocious ways we continue to treat each other, and the importance of libraries, literature, and melody, Poison For Breakfast is a heartwarming introspective work. 

The whimsical outlook of Lemony Snicket abounds. Fans new and old will enjoy this winding, thoughtful story. There is a story, even if Snicket’s thoughts often become tangental and meant to provoke, of being poisoned at breakfast, being surprised, and going on an adventure. 

Many compliments sound like lies, of course. Nothing will make you look for a mirror and a comb quicker than hearing “Your hair looks nice.”

Certain aspects of Poison For Breakfast come as advice on writing; the act of it, the lunacy of it, the wonder of it, and the process of it. Like he says, “Each patron in a library is looking for something different, and so the book you hardly notice is the book someone else is breathless to find, and the book that always makes you smile is busy making someone else sick. As someone who writes books, this always gives me hope.”

There are countless nuggets of wisdom and hundreds of charming, funny, or ridiculous quotes. It’s not hard to imagine this book on one’s shelf, with a broken spine and pages that fall out, with highlights and notes in the margins. Poison for Breakfast is the kind of book to be read now and again, to be returned to, to laugh over and cry over, to hug it to your chest, and maybe, on occasion, throw it across the room.

I can compare sadness to an automobile, because they can both run me over, and I can compare happiness to an aardvark, because they’re both unusual to see early in the morning…

Many thanks to Lemony Snicket, W.W. Norton & Company, and NetGalley for this eARC – which here means electronic advanced reader copy – in exchange for an honest review.

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