17 October 2006

Scream and Run Away

Lucky me, I got to go see Stephin Merritt and Daniel Handler play songs from The Tragic Treasury and read from--I don't know which book it was, possibly A Bad Beginning? (So unfortunate that Mr. Snicket himself couldn't make it, but he seems to have briefed Mr. Handler most thoroughly--and clearly, their shared habit of formality is catching!) It may scandalize but it can hardly surprise my audience that I have never actually read any of his books, and I went entirely to hear Stephin Merritt.

I can't imagine two more suited artists: Mr. Merritt's lugubrious, sonorous voice and dropsical face (not to mention the ukelele) compliment Mr. Handler's mournful bearing and dispassionately terrible stories very neatly--and the kids (and the grownups) lick it up. There was a bit of interactive theater that accompanied Scream and Run Away, and it was impossible to tell who enjoyed it more: the children, the parents, or Mr. Handler himself.

The Tragic Treasury is very Magnetic Fields-sounding indeed ("In the Reptile Room," for example, features that squishy percussion that will sound very familiar to Magnetic Fields listeners--and of course there's the ukelele), which reminds me to say that there's a new, actual Magnetic Fields CD being recorded and supposed to be released next spring. Mr. Merritt didn't sound very enthusiastic about touring in support of it, though, so if you haven't seen Magnetic Fields live already, you may have missed your chance. To which Mr. Handler, on behalf of Mr. Snicket, would no doubt have something very apt to say.

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