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Watch Your Mouth

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,241 ratings  ·  137 reviews
A golem is a creature made of clay that will rise up and do your bidding. The story of the golem is an old one, and nobody knows whether it's true or not. It's like an old family story in this way, or like the best sex of your life--did it happen the way you remember, or is it all just in your dirty mind? The summer Joseph lives with his girlfriend Cynthia and her family i ...more
Hardcover, 232 pages
Published 2000 by Thomas Dunne Books
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3.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,241 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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I love Daniel Handler SO MUCH. The way he writes is so splendid, I can sometimes hardly stand it. And his plots are so twisted and twisty and bizarre and beautiful and DARK. And funny and clever and smutty and sly and just just just such a joy to read. Here is how I love him:

Anyway so I obviously love this book to bits and pieces, let me count the ways. If you read the blurb you will know that it is: a meta-opera (sort of) about incest (maybe / maybe not) and Jewish mysticism (probably / possibl
Megan Scaison
May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who understand opera and like to be scandalized; fans of Bret Easton Ellis
Recommended to Megan by: Maggie in my knitting group
Oh G-d, this book.

When I finished it, I turned it over and started again.

Absolutely nothing turned out the way I had expected; with this particular book that probably means that I am not as fucked up as I sometimes think I might be. I suppose that means that Daniel Handler IS that fucked up.

This book affected me every bit as much as American Psycho, and in a very, very similar way.

This book contains two significant plot elements I've been wanting: contemporary American Jewish life, and opera. A
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this story sounds sounds rather dull (a guy in college moving in with his girlfriend and her dysfunctional family for the summer), but this was easily one of the strangest books I have ever read...including House of Leaves, which says quite a lot. The story is often structured as if it is an Opera with the protagonist Joseph continually telling the reader that this IS FICTION. A fair amount of description goes into lighting, curtains, sound effects etc.

The book is incredibly twis
MJ Nicholls
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Oriana
The UK paperback edition of this book has the ugliest design and corniest blurb I've ever seen, but the text itself is a marvellous linguistic whirlwind through incest, or imagined incest, golems, or imagined golems, and operas, or maybe novels.

I became aware of Daniel Handler through Stephin Merritt's band The Gothic Archies, and a mean-spirited review (by Lucy Ellmann) of Adverbs. Since I trust Lucy Ellmann implicitly, I read this instead. It is, quite simply, gleefully bonkers.
May 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Though I am a Handler/Snicket fan, the blurbs on this book, his second novel under his own name, didn't give me any impetus to want to read it;, but after enjoying his first novel, The Basic Eight, I figured I'd give it a try. Unfortunately, my first impression was right. While the writing was fine and kept me reading, the trademark Handler humor was not nearly enough to overcome a story that I didn't find entertaining at all.
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I couldn't help thinking while reading this that he was trying to make up for all of the adult situations he couldn't write into the Lemony Snicket books. I'm not a prude, by any means, but I kind of got tired of all the sex and other stuff in this book. I liked the aspect of setting it as the description of an opera, but I was glad the whole book didn't follow that formula because then it would've crossed the line into gimmick, I think. it was part Lemony Snicket, part Chuck Palahniuk, part Jon ...more
Allegra S
Do not read this book if you are picking it up because you like Daniel Handler's writing.
DO read this book if you like experimental fiction as well Jewish mythology and the absurd nature of modern opera.

The first half of this book uses the guise of a 'satire of opera' to tell a lengthy absurd-style comedy story that continuously references a couple of major themes/motifs. It's chalk full crazy situations and unbelievable scenarios, because opera.

The second half of the novel is very long and the
Glen Engel-Cox
Jan 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
In case you haven't heard, Daniel Handler is the mastermind behind Lemony Snicket, author of the unlucky adventures of the three Baudelaire orphans. His success as Snicket seemed to have happened overnight, but he's been writing for a while it seems, with two adult novels (this one and The Basic Eight to his credit, both written before the Snicket books, I believe). In combination, it is quite clear that Handler is well on his way to becoming the 21st century Roald Dahl, who also wrote books for ...more
Sarah Emily
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: very few people, if any
Shelves: disappointing
I was sitting on the bus commuting to work when it suddenly hit me: this book was about comedic incest. it wasn't going to be a one-liner, but an actual plot line. the major plot line. I mention this in large part because most descriptions of the book discuss Jewish folklore or opera and leave out the Main Theme.

now, incest isn't a deal breaker for me. neither is changing the color of a book's font midway through the novel. but when font color and telling people that my book is about comedic in
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I almost put this book down for good several times. Incest, really? And what's with Handler's obsession with semen - its seems that every page contains a reference thereto (though he did seem to be using water/liquids as a theme, though I'm not sure to what end). It makes me want to read the Lemony Snicket books my daughter loves to see exactly what's in them. Frankly, this book struck me as edgy (incest, really?) for the sake of edgy, shtick-y (the opera motif, the twelve-step program ...more
May 01, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was very disappointed. I had been told this wasn't as good as The Basic Eight (Handler's first novel, which I read a few years ago and LOVED), but my fiance convinced me to give it a try anyway. Handler's use of gimmicks, which worked so well in Basic Eight, only got in his way here. The first half of the book is written as an opera; a bit belaboured, but it almost works. The second half of the book, written as a 12-step program, was unnecessary--it seemed like the only reason it was there was ...more
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Oh gosh I am enamoured of Handler's writing: the subtle absurdity, the occasional nonsense, the intimate style of storytelling.

Joseph is a great narrator, self-absorbed but observant, exciting and bored. The copious amounts of sex that is had in the book is dealt with gorgeously, sweat and heat and sensation all featured. The opera framework is just self-referential enough to make the story a tiny bit tongue in cheek but not invasive enough to detract from the narrative; in fact, I think it is
Aug 25, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing. Incest and a golem? WTF? Started off almost pornographic and then just lost sight of whatever the story was supposed to be about. Don't bother with this one.
Megan Howarth
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A smutty Jewish incest-opera that turns into a 12-step program in the second half...quite possibly the strangest thing I have ever read. I finished the book a week ago and still have no idea what to make of it, no clue if the events in the story were meant to have actually happened or have all been in Joseph's head, or if I even liked it or not. One thing is for certain, though; you will never read another book like it.
Mark Enderle
Alternately hilarious, pornographic, and baffling. A solid 3.
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, I went to get an autograph from the author at Live Wire! Radio, having just finished the Series of Unfortunate Events series earlier that day. He had just talked about his new book (which was a Printz Honor book) about a box of memorabilia left over from a breakup of a relationship. They were out of the new book, so I grabbed the next best thing: this book.
So, I'm reluctant to even write this review, because the first half is a Jewish incest-comedy porn opera novel. And the parts that are f
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
3.5/5 stars. An operatic Jewish themed comedy novel about incest? Ok then. Possibly one of the oddest books I've read but frankly I love the odd, taboo and unashamedly smutty so in that sense I liked this book for the experience, and I'm glad I read it because it certainly was, erm, unique haha. The prose was also amazing and hilarious; "pearls hanging round women's necks like drops of semen" has got to be a new favourite line of mine.

Unlike some people I had no problem with the subject matter,
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Yikes. I didn't really like this, which is unfortunate considering how much I have fallen for Handler's writing lately. The writing itself is well done: expansive and poetic with a good handle on that tongue-in-cheek humor he does so well. The plot though? I just could not get into it. It is very strange, which in itself is not always a bad thing, but strange bordering experimental, like the black box productions in the state college's basement theater. The first half, the half which honed in
Oct 14, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
gonzo, opera, myth, sexy sex, funny stuff: what's not to like right? i didn't so much, not sure why. i like this gonzo n sex better: Drinking Closer to Home and i liked this gonzo and myth better: The Infinities and i liked this funny better: Bee Season
so that just leaves opera and rothy sex. sorry handler fans, more my failing than yours.
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably what Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden (or any other novel containing incest but not being about incest) would look like if it were: written backwards, upside-down but still with a linear structure; thrown on a stage with several lights going on and off from distinct angles; loosely set as an opera libretto for the first half; full of linguistic and metalinguistic jokes without being pedant; as unreliable as the narrator and everything that's happening, and to convey a sort of a my ...more
May 12, 2008 marked it as dnf-gave-up-or-will-never-read  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Daniel Handler. I love your turn as Lemony Snicket, and "Adverbs" was amazing -- but I ended up not being able to finish "Watch Your Mouth", as much as I was in ridiculous love with the premise. (I mean, what? An opera/12-step-program about incest and a golem and murder?)

But this prose style really, really did not jive with me, and it was a toil to get through. Blerg. This will teach me to squeal too much over books before reading them.
Dec 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yorwtfiw
Wow. That was strange. Good, but weird.

I feel like I need to re-read to fully appreciate, which leaves me less than charitable.
Hmmm. I can't say I really enjoyed this but it was original. Or something.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica Journey
Handler is clearly a sharp writer. "Watch Your Mouth" is full of witty turns of phrase, innuendos, and strongly written details. The story is modeled off of operas: the sex! the drama! the tragedy! the arias!
It's an interesting idea, but it didn't really work for me. The early scenes with the whole family were the strongest, all those dinnertime dynamics. After that, it just got weird. I love Handler's quirky approach in books like "Why We Broke Up," but here it was so insane I felt I was readi
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing was excellent but there was no story. I think Handler forgot he was telling a story at all--that happens to talented writers sometimes. He was busy doing so many cartwheels and kickflips that he started texting while driving and before you know it part 2 is an ambitious 12 step program format written in purple ink for what seems like purely aesthetic reasons. idk. I can see all the qualities in this book that make Lemony Snicket so great while Handler reads like someone writing with ...more
George Dean
Odd book. The first half is presented like an opera, and the second half is presented in the form of a twelve step programme. I don’t really have a lot of thoughts to articulate here just because the whole thing was so bizarre, wow. The second half is definitely slower paced than the first though, although I liked all the plot twists in it after I thought the story was basically told in its entirety in part one.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever, engrossing, vulgar, hilarious. I thought all of the meta-stuff and pretending it was an opera would get irritating or gimmicky but amazingly it never did. I was really rooting for JOSEP space H.

A little slow to get started but then, great. I had to stop questioning anything and just enjoy the ride. And I did!
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Daniel Handler is the author of the novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, Adverbs and, most recently, the Michael J. Printz Honor-winning Why We Broke Up, a collaboration with noted illustrator Maira Kalman. He also worked with Kalman on the book Girls Standing on Lawns and Hurry Up and Wait (May 2015). Under the name Lemony Snicket he has written the best-selling books series All The Wrong Qu ...more
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