Monday, 29 September 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Ersatz Elevator, Chapter 1

I did consider postponing the start of these reviews until next week to give myself a chance to stay on top of everything because as I said yesterday, things are getting busy in the Click house during the next couple of weeks. I’m feeling confident that I can do everything in time though, if nothing else, it’s good practice for NaNoWriMo!

What Happens?

The Baudelaires arrive at their new home on Dark Avenue to discover that dark is ‘in’ and that they will be living in the penthouse apartment at number 667 with Mr and Mrs Squalor. Mr Poe doesn’t have time to accompany them up all the flights of stairs as he’s got to go and catch a helicopter to try and find the Quagmires. This means the Baudelaires are forced to climb up to their new home alone.

Thoughts as I read:

As it’s the start of a new book it means we’ve got a new dedication:

For Beatrice -
When we met, my life began.
Soon afterward, yours ended.

And a new picture to kick off the story. This one shows a big gnarled tree trunk, it looks like it has another plant growing round it too. There’s two more of these trees in the background where we can also see the Baudelaire trio standing next to a sign which says DARK and has a fish shape above it. The fish images remind me of Chasing Vermeer with little hidden pictures in almost every picture. I love Brett Helquist.

Chapter One itself doesn’t actually begin with a picture, presumably because we just got a big full page one on the last page. It’s got a pretty cool opening paragraph though:

The book you are holding in your two hands right now – assuming that you are, in fact, holding this book, and that you have only two hands – is one of two books in the world that will show you the difference between the word “nervous” and the word “anxious”. The other book, of course, is the dictionary, and if I were you I would read that book instead.

I love these openings. Two of the threads on the NaNo forums I’ve been reading recently is ‘Adopt an Opening Line’ and the ‘First 200 Words Critique’, I can’t help but hold up the Series of Unfortunate Events books as an example of how it should be done. I mean, this tells me absolutely nothing about the story, the characters or what is likely to happen in the coming 260 pages, but I can’t help but read on.

Anyway, we get a bit of a definition on what ‘nervous’ and ‘anxious’ actually mean as well as some hints about where we can find the meanings of a host of other words too. I’m not going to quote the whole page here, but seriously, pick up the book and read it. I love it.

The story doesn’t actually kick in properly until the third page where we discover that the Baudelaires are being accompanied to their latest guardian by Mr Poe, once again. They’re standing at the end of Dark Avenue which is living up to its name. For one thing there are no street lamps. It amuses me that this bears mentioning because where I live we have no street lamps either, come to think of it, the road outside my house is lined on one side by trees, though these aren’t really much like the trees on Dark Avenue. It is pretty dark and spooky when you go out at night. It also doesn’t block out the sunlight in the middle of the day which is what happens along Dark Avenue.

Mr Poe is trying to reassure the Baudelaires and doing a bad job of it. For one thing he thinks the children are nervous when in actual fact they are anxious about their next run in with Count Olaf. I say ‘next run in’ as opposed to anything else because by this stage in the series it’s fairly obvious that sooner or later they will run into him again, because if after five books you’ve not worked out how these things work then you never will!

We also spend a couple of pages having a little recap of things so far. We’re reminded what Olaf looks like and of the fact that he’s currently got the Quagmires. Poe tells the Baudelaires that he’s actually got some good news about the Quagmires, to which Sunny asks “Gavu?” which I think means ‘have you?’ but is translated as “The Quagmires have been found and rescued?” which is more or less the same thing.

Instead it means Mr Poe has been promoted to Vice President in Charge of Orphan Affairs at the bank, putting him in charge of the Quagmires as well as the Baudelaires. In short, the Quagmires are doomed! As if to highlight how doomed the Baudelaires will be, Poe is off for three weeks to search for the Quagmires, during which time he will be completely incommunicado.

The Baudelaires’ new residence will be 667 Dark Avenue, not quite 666, and they will be living with Mr and Mrs Squalor. This all sounds a bit ominous. They’re struggling to find the door, but luckily for them there’s a helpful doorman who is able to show them where it is. Inside it’s still dark because apparently ‘dark is in’ so everything is lit by candles. This is the children’s first education in the concept of ‘in’, or in other words, what is fashionable for the Dark Avenue residents.

Unfortunately for the Baudelaires the elevator is ‘out’, as in not fashionable, and the Squalors live in the penthouse. It’s going to be a long climb. The staircase is just as dark which prompts the children to liken it to other dark places, like caves or “Pinse!” (which is Sunny-speak for “Or outer space!”). There are either forty-eight or eighty-four floors up to the penthouse and Mr Poe has a helicopter to catch so he’s not got time to hang around. As such, the children are told to head up there by themselves.

The children are a little hesitant about making the trek all by themselves and Mr Poe does consider putting off the search for the Quagmires in order to walk up the staircase with the Baudelaires. At this Klaus tells Poe that “finding the Quagmires is much more important” though Sunny isn’t so sure and adds “Obog”, presumably she has as much faith in Mr Poe as I do.

So we’ll leave the children heading off up a long, dark staircase and hopefully tomorrow when we come back they’ll have made it up to the penthouse apartment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)