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Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
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's review
Jan 09, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2012
Read from January 07 to 10, 2012

Handler and Kalman are so perfect for each other I'm surprised no one thought to pair them up before (well, technically, someone did, just pseudonymously). Both Kalman's cunning gouaches and the artist formerly known as Lemony Snicket's tricksy fables draw on the same patented mix of gothic quirkiness, rickety charm, deceptively simple erudition, and creeping unease.

Now while that heady mix may be irresistible to me, I'll grant you that they are not the first keywords that come to mind when one thinks of a YA novel about high school romance. But it works here -- delightfully, dreadfully so. Handler nails the simultaneous mix of ecstasy and terror that is navigating puberty, love, and teenagerdom, with a quick wit and an even quicker eye for emotional nuance. Though I had no emotional point of reference for what Min (or Ed) was going through (I was not dating anyone at the age of 16), even as a 32yo homosexual I was with boy meets girl every step of the way, knowing from the first paragraph that Ed was a punk-ass immature bro-dude who would grow up to be a fat and worthless nothing while the dorks went on to great things -- but still flipping frantically through the pages, sweaty-palmed and puppy dog-eyed every time jock asshole did something sweet for queen of the nerds, gasping at the final climactic (view spoiler) even though I easily saw every part of that coming from a mile away, about 150pp. back.

And don't even get me started about the amazing alternative universe filmography Handler has created. It deserves its own Handler-Kalman illustrated book! I would endure the musty bowels of the gay-ass Carnelian for weeks on end just to see all these amazing movies Min and her friends go on and on about. Does someone have a copy of When The Lights Go Down they can lend me for a night? I just put on my favorite Hawk Davies album.
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