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Books, Etcetera with Lynn Carey: Don't miss Lemony Snicket

This week's Contra Costa Reading Festival offers a feast of local author events.

A few authors are coming to Contra Costa who you'll want to see this week, but first, there's a back-story on one of them.

Ten years ago I took a carload of kids to an author event in Danville. I wasn't expecting much more than a lot of fidgeting, despite the fact that it was a brand new children's book with an odd premise: a family of lovely children who are orphaned in the first few pages due to a horrific fire.

Well, the author never even showed up at this event, something about a bite from a poisonous spider. He sent someone in his place—who didn¹t even read
from the book. No, this guy dramatically skulked around, making vaguely threatening comments to the kids. He was hilarious. It was one of the best nights of theater in my life.

Yep, the author was Lemony Snicket, the guy at the reading was Daniel Handler (who, we all know by now, is Lemony Snicket), and the book was The Bad Beginning, the first in the Series of Unfortunate Events. The 13th and last in the series, The End, was published three years ago.

I interviewed Lemony Snicket (who at times was Daniel Handler) at his home near Golden Gate Park just before the first book made it big. He used to walk over to see the buffalo in the park a couple of times a week. He's a brilliant, quirky, and funny guy. It was a blast.

Since then, Lemony Snicket's fame went orbital. Handler is still writing; his most recent book, for adults, is Adverbs, published three years ago.

And now, Handler is one of the authors appearing at the Contra Costa Reading Festival, starting today and running though next Saturday. He'll be at the Civic Park Community Center, 1375 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 9. The topic: "Who is This Lemony Snicket and Why Does He Keep Following Me?" You do NOT want to miss this, so get there early!

Other featured authors include: LeakyCauldron.com webmistress Melissa Anelli on "All Things Harry! Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Harry Potter"
at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at the Willow Pass Center, 2748 East Olivera Rd., Concord; and Bay Area reporter and author Mark Curtis dishing on behind the scenes with Hilary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama in  "On the Campaign Trail: the Making of the President" at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 7 at the Orinda Library Auditorium.

There are many, many more events having to do with the Reading Festival. For a complete list, go to http://guides.ccclib.org/content.php?pid=36390. And if you go see Daniel Handler, ask him about his rumored next book, supposedly about a modern-day pirate who wishes he was an old-fashioned kind of pirate. Timely!

For 12 years, Lynn Carey has run the Times Book Club, which now appears in the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune newspapers. For the past 17 years, she's lived in Lafayette with her husband, Lamorinda Sun columnist Mike Zampa, and their two teenagers.