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The New Zealand Herald

Garth George


. . .

APROPOS of my column last week, on Tuesday I received this email from San Francisco:

"I was forwarded your column on my books. Normally I do not bother to reply to my detractors - I'm content to let my work stand for itself - but as your opinions seem rooted in spurious information I thought I might speak up.

"Your charges that my books are born of 'a peculiarly perverted form of adult cynicism' is based on an inaccurate description, published earlier in your newspaper, charging that my books 'teach the blunt lesson that good will not triumph over evil simply by being good, only by being lucky, being cunning or possessing superior firepower'.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. The young heroes of the Snicket books endure through the choices they have made not to sink to the level of the violent and unsavoury villains they encounter. It rankles me that you would characterise me, unread, as someone preaching violence to the world's youth.

"I would not presume to ask for more space in a newspaper which has already devoted considerable paper to dragging my name through the mud.

"But perhaps the next time you embark on literary criticism you might not abandon the hallmarks of the journalistic profession and indulge in a little fact-checking.

"You say, in your column, that reading up on one's topic 'is one of the most specious of liberal arguments'.

"But it seems to me the very definition of responsible journalism and common courtesy - ethics I hope you would like to encourage in your godsons.

"With all due respect,

Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket."

* garth_george@nzherald.co.nz