Scorn, Dissected and Illustrated

In his new young adult novel, Daniel Handler writes from the perspective of a precocious 16-year-old, which is not such a stretch. It’s a safe bet our proto-Snicket, growing up in San Francisco, left a lot of dazzled students and teachers in his wake. The main character in Why We Broke Up is a teenage girl — a yearning, heartbroken, furious teenage girl — who has pinned down the object of her passion, like a bug on a stick, to explain exactly why they broke up. It’s high-wire point-of-view writing over tricky adolescent terrain — a fervent, obsessive, and very long letter from a jilted young girl to her beau. There’s also a lot of stuff about films you’ve never heard of, because Handler made them all up. Handler enlisted famed artist Maira Kalman for visual aid in telling the story, and her paintings of the shared objects of the affair — ticket stubs, bottle caps, coins — require nose-to-the-page viewing to savor the intimate detail.
Fri., Feb. 3, 7 p.m., 2012

 
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