Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writing Prompt: For the Love of Lemony Snicket by Patricia Zaballos

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Patricia Zaballos’s essay, For the Love of Lemony Snicket, tells a story that many of us will recognize—from our own childhoods, if not yet from our experience as parents. The author’s family laughs, learns and keeps a common conversation going over the course of years, all because of a shared appreciation for A Series of Unfortunate Events and its many sequels. With audiobooks regularly introducing new chapters to the discussion or refreshing their memories as they travel, Zaballos’s children develop a sensitivity to vocabulary, humor and literary rationale. They question, they compare impressions, they articulate their observations; they use a series of books that they know intimately to better understand other books.

Snicket has offered our family something more . . . than a mentorship in words. He has created for us a fan club of four. . . . I’m sure that many families have their own favorite authors—I know one that can’t get enough of Terry Pratchett, and another that has trekked to the land of Laura Ingalls Wilder as if it’s the Santiago de Compostela trail—but Lemony Snicket is our man, even if he isn’t real. His amalgamation of literary and ludicrous appeals to our own peculiar family sensibility, we people who revel in metaphor and Monty Python in equal measure.

What book (or books) defined literature for you as a child? Was it an influence that your family shared? If not, how did favorite books create other connections for you? Are you trying to create a similar connective experience for your children? Or have your children, to some extent, created the experience for you, as Zaballos’s children did?

Submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by April 19 for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflectionsATliterarymamaDOTcom and note "For the Love of Lemony Snicket" in your subject line. We'll publish our favorites on the blog.


Libby Maxey lives in rural Massachussetts with her husband and two young sons. With her academic career as a medievalist having died a stunningly swift death by childbirth, she now works as an editor, writes poetry, reads when able, and sings with her local light opera company. Her work has appeared in The Mom Egg Review, Off the Coast, Tule Review, Crannóg Magazine, Mezzo Cammin and elsewhere.


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