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Elusive Lemony Snicket

"Lemony Snicket himself is as elusive as a snow leopard," the Economist once reported. "For a long while, grainy black-and-white photographs showed him in silhouette, or in flight from the camera, his shadowy features hidden beneath a crumpled fedora. Some denied his existence outright."

Pressed, Snicket once admitted that his real name was in fact Daniel Handler. "I live in San Francisco," he added, "and recently I have spent my spare time playing contract bridge, brewing aquavit and arguing with my health insurer."

[The Bad Beginning opens with a stern warning, which sets the tone for what follows: "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle."]

[At one point near the turn of the Millennium Snicket and J.K. Rowling neatly occupied every top spot on the New York Times children's bestsellers list.]

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