There's not a lot I won't try if given the right incentive, so when a co-worker friend offered me a hard-cover copy of Daniel Handler's Adverbs, free, since she couldn't remember either buying it or borrowing it, I decided to give it a try. I liked A Series of Unfortunate Events (with some reservations), so why not a novel for adults by the same guy? She did warn me that it was impossibly annoying, but hey – free book.
Love was in the air, so both of us walked through love on our way to the corner. We breathed it in, particularly me: the air was also full of smells and birds, but it was the love, I was sure, that was tumbling down to my lungs, the heart's neighbors and confidants. Andrea was tall and angry. I was a little bit shorter. She smoked cigarettes. I worked in a store that sold things. We always walked to this same corner, Thirty-seventh and what's-it, Third Avenue, in New York, because it was easier to get a cab there, the entire time we were in love.
I could see almost immediately why my friend gave up on it. It's annoyingly disjointed and enigmatic, but frustratingly rather than intriguingly so. It's not quite a novel, but a collection of stories that occasionally link up and often share nothing more than character names (not characters, just the names) in common, a mention each chapter of black birds, an adverb for a chapter title, and love in a variety of incarnations as the single constant note throughout.