Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography is Lemony Snicket's fictional autobiography, a pseudonym or pen-name, of Daniel Handler. The book was first published in May 2002, soon after The Carnivorous Carnival.
Exclusive to the hard back version is a reversible book jacket to disguise the autobiography as a cheerful story called The Pony Party! which is book #1 of the fictional series The Luckiest Kids in the World! written by a woman named Loney M. Setnick and illustrated by Beth Quiltrest. The story is obviously a spoof intended to create a sharp contrast to the dismal events in A Series of Unfortunate Events. The name Loney M. Setnick is an anagram of Lemony Snicket and the name Beth Quiltrest is an anagram of Brett Helquist.
All of the pictures within the book are in black and white, which may suggest the events in the series took place in the past. It contains extra information on V.F.D., including the Snicket siblings and many other characters, that were not covered in the main series. It also contains crucial information on earlier books, such as the backstory behind Uncle Monty and his assistant Gustav Sebald and a secret concerning the stacks of paper in Paltryville that were destroyed soon after the Baudelaires departed. It explains the story behind the V.F.D. insignia and all the hidden messages inside the books. It also contains information about animals used by the V.F.D, particularly the Incredibly Deadly Viper and Mamba du Mal, from Uncle Monty's reptile room. It explains how the Mamba du Mal can send warnings to its master, such as, "summer is", meaning "enemies are nearby, "over and gone, over and gone", meaning "probably in disguise", and "dying", meaning, "beware of arson".
Many of the illustrations are ambiguous, but could be used to portray V.F.D characters and headquarters. The book contains the letters written by Lemony Snicket to his siblings Kit Snicket and Jaques Snicket and many of his associates, including the Duchess of Winnipeg.
Throughout the book, many VFD codes are explained, such as:
- "I didn't realize this was a sad occasion", used by a particular waiter at The Anxious Clown and also by Quigley Quagmire in the Slippery Slope, the correct response is "The world is quiet here".
- "Are you who I think you are?", used by Hotel Denouement managers Frank and Ernest in The Penultimate Peril.
- "Well young lady, have you been good to your mother?", used by an elderly man in a flowery shirt, striped tie, tweed coat, and plaid slacks with sharp creases and shined shoes. The correct response to the question would be "The question is, has she been good to me?"
- Mozart's 14th symphony, when whistled, is said to be a code
Table of Contents
Each chapter in the book included a question. In the book however, Lemony Snicket changed the chapter's titles, saying they were not the "proper questions" for the Baudelaires' case, and wrote in new titles after crossing out the previous names. Regardless, some of the former questions are answered within the chapter itself (such as Chapter 10) or other chapters.
|Chapters||Former Title||New Title|
|1||Why was Mr.Snicket's death published in the newspaper?||Who took this? [picture of infant child]|
|2||Why has Mr. Snicket dedicated his life to the Baudelaire case?||Is this letter authentic? ["R"]|
|3||Why does Count Olaf have a tattoo of an eye on his ankle?||Why has this building been abandoned?|
|4||Where are the Quagmire Triplets now?||Who is the tallest person in this photograph?|
|5||Who is Beatrice?||Why was this actress replaced after only three performances?|
|6||What is V.F.D.?||Why did this ship leave three hours ahead of schedule?|
|7||Why is there a secret passageway between the Baudelaire mansion and 667 Dark Avenue?||What has stained this man's jacket?|
|8||Why isn't Mr. Poe as helpful as he ought to be?||Why do these children have nothing better to do than sit outside and stare glumly at the camera?|
|9||Why is Lemony Snicket on the run?||What has happened to the reptiles in Dr. Montgomery's collection?|
|10||How many associates does Count Olaf have?||What can be hidden in a book?|
|11||Are the Baudelaire parents really dead?||Why do so many things end in fire?|
|12||Is there anything a concerned citizen can do if he or she wants to help the Baudelaires?||If there's nothing's out there, what was that noise?|
|13||Who is Lemony Snicket?||
Chapter one . . .
(Lemony Snicket apparently scratched out the second title, and the rest of the writing is illegible)
"The elusive author provides a glimpse into his mysterious and sometimes confusing life, using fanciful letters, diary entries, and other miscellaneous documents as well as photographs and illustrations."
Lemony Snicket explains the story behind V.F.D, including many secret codes used by different members.
". . . although the people at the publishing house have no idea where the documents enclosed in this book came from. If you recognize yourself in any of the photographs or illustrations, you may find yourself in VERY FRIGHTENING DANGER and/or slightly embarrassed but there is nothing we can do about it. Please note that the author has been called a fraud, a criminal, a bestseller, a corpse, a fictional character, an unreliable narrator, an objective flaneur, an embattled gentleman, a magnetic field, an arsonist, and late for a dinneby an odd number of dubious authorities. Send help at once. All rights reserved. . ." -Publishing house
Although it is labeled "Unauthorized" for humor, the book is in fact official.