Tuesday, September 19, 2006

smile! no one cares how you feel

On the occasion of the upcoming release of The Gothic Archies' The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events, Stephen Merritt interviews Lemony Snickett at the Guardian.

SM: Well as you have discovered, Mr S, the world is in fact a scary place, very much so, and I wanted people to know that. I read all about it in your third book, The - if memory serves - Wide Window, in which the Baudelaires continue their progress toward the inevitable fate awaiting them in The End. As you know, The Tragic Treasury features 15 of my songs vaguely about your books, one per book, all originally included on the audiobook versions, but now retooled for even wider distribution to the hapless public. And I have recorded it under the name of the Gothic Archies, so that no one will ever know who really made it. (I have many disguises: the Magnetic Fields, etc.) Sometimes it is necessary to write songs under assumed names and sometimes the situation calls for an assumed persona to sing the song. In the case of The World Is a Very Scary Place, it is the rightly timorous Aunt Josephine, who as it turns out should have been even more careful. Either way, as the song says, the wolf is at the door. Will you excuse me a moment?

LS: But of course. Your brief absence will allow me to add a jigger of brandy to the snifter in my trembling hand. For surely you have heard that the histories that inspired your educational songs have not been received as intended - that is, for the education of the general public. Instead, the books have largely been regarded, astonishingly, as entertainment. I have even heard instances in which children, scarcely as old as the Baudelaires themselves, have been encouraged to read A Series of Unfortunate Events, rather than devoting themselves to looking at photographs of daisies, or composing limericks to be recited by finger puppets. Are you afraid that the songs in The Tragic Treasury might be regarded as catchy rather than cautionary?