Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Premature Book Review: Watch Your Mouth (Daniel Handler, 2000)

After discussing author Daniel Handler last week, I decided to re-read Watch Your Mouth and give a quick overview you you, my loving readers.

This Handler's second novel of the non-Lemony Snicket variety, and is more subversive, perverse, and comical than his first novel, The Basic Eight. It is the story of Joseph, a college student who meets and falls for the highly libidinous Cyn (Cynthia) Glass. She arranges for the two of them to spend the summer with her parents in Pittsburgh, PA while working at a Jewish day-camp, Camp Shalom. This is where Joseph's world falls apart.

The book is divided into two parts. Part one is often misrepresented as a opera. Joseph is the narrator, and described the action as though he were composing an opera about the story. It has all the operatic elements. The father plagued by scandal, a wife creating scandal, a wanton daughter, and lots of people die in the end. Oh, and there is incest. Lots of it.

The second part is often misrepresented as a self-help book. Joseph is trying to recover from his time in the Glass house, and has started reading a self-help book. The narrative now follows his progression through a twelve-step program. This part of the book is similar to (Chuck Palahniuk, 1996) in Joseph's further talking to his reader and going through a set of rules in an attempt to turn his life around. It is also a bit of a murder mystery.

In all, though perverse and occasionally gratuitous sexually, this is one of my favorite books, and definitely my favorite by Handler. It is clever and funny, and I think you feel Joseph's frustration towards the situation he has found himself in. He is not entirely sympathetic, but it is difficult to imagine someone in his predicament. There are clever twists, and even though I have read the book previously, I am still surprised at times and find myself laughing out loud.


Anonymous said...

good review!
thank you for sharing 0_0

Unknown said...

I'm a fan of Handler, but mostly for his music with bands like The Magnetic Fields and The Gothic Archies.

I still plan on getting around to reading his A Series of Unfortunate Events books, but I haven't found the time yet.

Darius Whiteplume said...

@FDF - Glad you enjoyed it.

@Mark - I am rereading "The Bad Beginning" now. Handler turns a clever phrase, and does not patronize kids. I am surprised a bit by how good the books are considering how non-kid-friendly his other work is.

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