Daniel Handler explores San Francisco in ‘The Basic Eight’

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Need a book?

Sure it’s a drag to be back from spring break, but at least you may be tanner than when you left and the notion that midterms are over can allow you to feel calm.

To get back into the schooling mode why not pick up a book? Don’t let leisurely reading become a dying activity.

The man behind “A Series of Unfortunate Events” wrote “The Basic Eight” but in this case he didn’t use his pen name of Lemony Snicket.

Instead, Daniel Handler, Snicket’s real name, authored the book.

This novel would have been a good beach read to flip through during your travel time or even on the beach, but now you don’t have the excuse of choosing jet skiing or heading to the swim-up bar or taking a hot chocolate break from your ninth time down the ski slope.

Although “The Basic Eight” was published in 1998, I found myself reading it and finding that it was relevant to my life in that it mocks the traditional English class style of analysis.

At the end of each chapter the author places study questions and vocabulary words in a sarcastic tone that can be taken lightly or dramatically depending on your level of academia.

The story takes place in San Francisco and centers on a high school girl named Flannery and her group of eclectic friends.
Handler grew up in San Francisco and when asked about how he feels about the cover of his novel (which features his hometown) he said, “I very much like the image on the cover of ‘The Basic Eight,’ although in the United States it appears on the cover of a John O’Hara novel so we can’t use it.

“I don’t recognize the skyline, but last night I had a dinner party in which much local cheese, wine and bourbon were consumed, and this morning we’re hurriedly throwing together a Mexican brunch, involving many heirloom tomatoes, which we’re wolfing down before heading on over to an outside music festival.”

“That description makes San Francisco sound quite fun indeed, but I’m prejudiced — my love for San Francisco is such that I’m always saying, ‘You can’t get this anywhere else but here,’ to which the listener will occasionally reply, ‘That’s Early Grey tea, Daniel. You can get that anywhere.’

Many describe the book’s genre to be a black comedy due to the cynicism featured throughout each chapter.

It’s more than just a beach read with strange plot twists and perhaps an unreliable narrator.

Critics categorize the novel with other books such as “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky and “Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney.

Handler has written other notable books like “Adverbs: A Novel” and “Why We Broke Up.” 

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