Sunday, November 05, 2006

Anagrams and adverbs

So I'm merrily reading along in Lorrie Moore's "Paper Losses," having a fine old time since Lorrie Moore is a both a genius and a god who does no wrong, and I get to this paragraph:

Whom she tried not to look at but could smell in all his smoky aromas—tobacco, incense, cannabis—swirling their way around him. A wiry old American pothead gone to grim seed. His name was Daniel Handler, according to the business card he wore safety-pinned to his shirt like a badge. He did not speak. He placed hot stones up and down her back and left them there. Did she think her belotioned flesh too private and precious to be touched by the likes of him? Are you crazy? The mad joy in her face was held over the floor by the massage-table headpiece, and at his touch her eyes filled with bittersweet tears, which then dripped out of her nose, which she realized was positioned perfectly by God as a little drainpipe for crying. The sad massage-hut carpet beneath her grew a spot. A heart could break, but perhaps you could move on to the next one, and the next, like a worm with its several hearts. Daniel left the hot stones on her until they went cold. As each one lost its heat, she could no longer feel it there on her back, and then its removal was like a discovery that it had been there all along: how strange to forget and then feel something only then, at the end. Though this wasn’t the same thing as the frog in the pot whose water slowly heats and boils, still it had meaning, she felt, the way metaphors of a thermal nature tended to. Then he took all the stones off and pressed the hard edges of them deep into her back, between the bones, in a way that felt mean but more likely had no intention at all.

and I go, Daniel Handler! What's he doing in a Lorrie Moore story? Am I not picking up on some blatantly obvious Lemony Snicket reference (I have not read Lemony Snicket). Are Handler and Moore buddies, beaux? Surely this means something or the Mr. Handler in the story would be merely an Anton or possibly a Randy.

So I go out on the internets to the google and I find that Anagrams is one of Handler's favorite novels and that he admits to shameless borrowing from Moore, and that Handler's novel Adverbs was "stolen completely from Anagrams."

And now I'm going to have to read Adverbs to detect all the bits stolen from Anagrams.

And maybe, find a character named Lorrie Moore hidden within its pages.


  1. That's very interesting. I didn't know that Handler was inspired (or, well, 'stole') from Moore's 'Anagrams'). I haven't read Moore's book (but very much want to) but am almost finished 'Adverbs' by Handler, which I am sorry to say, was a tad disappointing. Started out great, but is gradually losing it's appeal nearing the end. Too self-conscious, too pleased with himself, and well, his playful used of adverbs.

  2. Well, that is very interesting. (I have an inside scoop on Franzen and Kathryn Chekowitch, his sig. other, in terms of writing partners.)

    But thanks for reminding me about Moore...TBR!!!!

  3. Anonymous9:09 PM

    i actually came across your site trying to find my way after noticing the same thing in the lorrie moore story. i was at first stunned as well, but then remembered that a while ago lorrie moore auctioned off the right to have your name be the name of a character in her next published story (i think it was for litpac or something). anyway, there's no record of it or anything, but that's what i think it is.

    p.s. i agree with the other commenter, but i still quite enjoyed adverbs.


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