The End is Near (About a Week Away)

This week's column was meant to have suggestions of books you might like, chosen from the heaping pile of library books on my nightstand that are anxiously waiting to go back and into the hands of other eager readers. However following a completely unforeseen and complicated chain of frightening, mysterious, and inexplicable occurrences, I've had to rewrite the entire thing because I fear I must inform you that The End is near; very near, in fact it will be upon us in a week, on October the 13th, which happens to be a Friday.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket's wonderful and empowering chronicles about those resourceful orphans, the Baudelaires, will end with a book called, unsurprisingly, The End. Search your hearts and your conscience and ask yourself, are you prepared for the end? Have you read the twelve preceding books ranging from The Bad Beginning to The Penultimate Peril? What about Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography? I believe that is quite possibly the only unauthorized autobiography in the history of the written word.

Have you watched the vile videos available at the treacherous and best-avoided Lemony Snicket website? Warning, The Snicket Emergency is particularly dreadful and should not be viewed just before bedtime. Of course 12 Books in 120 Seconds is appalling in its own way, so take care if you choose to subject yourself to that ghastliness.

If you really like dreary dreadful sounds and find yourself, against your better instincts, drawn to the soundtrack in the videos, you may be interested to know that the Gothic Archies, the band responsible for that reprehensible (a word that here means it is abhorrent to thrust this sound upon an innocent world) music is releasing a CD on the tenth called The Tragic Treasury: Songs From A Series of Unfortunate Events. Shockingly, Mr. Stephin Merritt, who brought us the Magnetic Fields, has made no secret of his involvement in this project, perhaps in a misguided attempt to expose his unsuspecting previous fans to frightening songs like "Walking My Gargoyle" or "Scream and Run Away." You can sample three of these beastly tracks here, but why would you?

There is still more that you can force yourself to do to prepare for the dreadfulness that will fall upon us soon; you can download and read Thirteen Shocking Secrets You'll Wish You Never Knew About Lemony Snicket, a publication offered for free, no doubt for nefarious reasons. These secrets are indeed shocking, in fact far too shocking for me to repeat in this space (you never know who might be watching and how many eyes they have tattooed on their ankles). You won't find the answers to the mystery that surrounds Beatrice in its pages but I can tell you, just between you and me, that I have heard rumors that Beatrice is not dead at all, in fact she may just turn up when you least expect it. In order to make sense of this totally unforeseen development you may want to get a copy of The Beatrice Letters although there is a certain tawdriness associated with reading other people's correspondence, especially that which is written to dodgy characters like L. Snicket.

The sad thing is that no matter what you do, no matter what clues you figure out, no matter how many volumes of misbegotten lore you read, no matter how many bottles of water you hide in your cellar and how many cans of vegetables you secret away, you'll still not be prepared for The End. I suppose there's some cold comfort to be found in the fact that you tried. But really, wouldn't you rather go and read something with rainbows, happy chipmunks, singing goldfish and cheery green sprites? It's really not too late. Yet.

I have some last minute breaking news for you. John Scalzi is auctioning off an extremely rare copy of his not yet released book The Last Colony, the third book in his Old Man's War series, in support of the John M. Ford Book Endowment at the Minneapolis Public Library. The higher the bid, the more you get, up to and including Scalzi writing you your very own short story. This is a wonderful opportunity to get some Scalzi goodies and do something in remembrance of a wonderful writer, poet, game designer and all around tremendous fellow. The auction ends at 11:59:59 pm Eastern, Monday, October 9, 2006 so you're going to want to take a look at it ASAP.

For this week's one sentence review Sandra Elliott has more to say about her recent trip to Las Vegas, "Cirque du Soleil productions are to real stage shows what those 'I Spy' books are to novels." Have you got a one-sentence review you’d like to submit to Quality Time? Send it in to me at and I'll run the best ones. You may focus on just about anything that fits a family entertainment format; games, movies, books, music - the sky is the limit, or is it? Want to review the status of poor ex-planet Pluto? Go right ahead.