Breaking up is hard to do — but it can be funny, too

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You would think Daniel Handler would be an expert on breakups, but surprisingly, the author of “Why We Broke Up,” hasn’t had one since before 1992, when he met his wife-to-be while still in college.

“I kind of missed the usual romantic strife that many people have in their 20s,” said Handler, who has also written a series of popular children’s books under the pen name, Lemony Snicket.

But perhaps it’s this very dearth of heartache that inspired the author to write a book about the break-up of a fictional teen couple in the first place, for which he collaborated with celebrated illustrator, Maira Kalman, whose drawings give soul to the most quotidian of objects for publications like the New Yorker and The New York Times. For “Why We Broke Up,” Kalman sketched the items a young girl returns to her ex-boyfriend — a pair of bottle caps, an old camera, a hand-scrawled note on binder paper — in short, the small and meaningless things that couples inevitably imbue with meaning.

The story is non-linear and non-traditional, and is written from the perspective of Min Green, a high school junior navigating the turbulent waters of her breakup with senior Ed Slaterton.

Handler and Kalman will read from the young adult book at Word bookstore in Greenpoint on Jan. 19, where audience members will be invited to share their own breakup stories.

Yes, lost romance can be tragic — but this event’s going to be fun.

“Breakups are heartbreaking when they happen to you,” said Handler. “But they can be funny when they happen to someone else.”

Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman at Word [126 Franklin St. between Milton and Noble streets in Greenpoint, (718) 383-0096] Jan. 19, 7 pm. For info, visit

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow his Tweets at @emrosenberg.

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Reader Feedback

Article on breakups. It actually pulled me in, not because it was wrote good. But because I have been very curious from a guys point of view. So, I read it! It did not get to what I was wanting to read about but It did get me to read it... I have always wonder why there hasn't been a tv show or a daily writer, here in the city for the men! If their is I have not come across it yet. They had sex in the city for all the women and the men that waned to be women. But never a guy to write for all the men here in the city! Which I would love and I would read it; If it was about guys relationships from their point of view! I would read that every day. Believe it or not, there are more men that read their horoscope than you think... Sounds silly, cause most guys will tell you they don't and that's gay.
But they are lying to you. Just in that since, I know that if not all, majority of the men in city would read a article about other men's does and don't in there relationships!! I WOULD!!
We would all agree, that no matter how hard or how close we get to women, we get no closer to understanding why they do what they do... But I want to know and I want make the girl I'm in love with happy and not make the same ——ed up mistakes.. But I will never be able to do that without some help from all my boys' out there in my city! YOU should find someone to write a weekly article just for men.. A mans point of view , the does and don't that he did or shouldn't did. The women here in the city are way ahead of the women of the rest or the world. And they will probably tell you that,too.. ALRIGHT TO ALL THE GUYS, IF YOU LOVE YOUR GIRL DON'T GIVE UP. TREAT THEM LIKE A QUEEN EVEN THOUGH THEY MIT BE DOING DUMB THINGS AND MAKING DECISION THAT MAKE NOT SINCE! IF YOU REALLY LOVE THAT PERSON THIS SHOULD NOT BE TO HARD FOR YOU TO FOLLOW "NOT CRAZY" U WILL BE ABLE TO TELL IF SHE REALLY WANTS YOU TO MOVE. ALWAYS LET HER KNOW HOW BEAUTIFUL AND SPECIAL THAT SHE IS TO YOU AND EVERYONE SHE COMES IN CONTACT WITH! THEY GET JUST AS LOST AS WE DO, MAYBE NOT AS MUCH. BUT STILL THE SAME, THEY DO. IF ANY THING YOU WILL WALK OUT OF THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR HEAD UP, WITH THE KNOLEGDE THAT YOU GAVE HER MORE THAN A 100%, AND BY THE BOOKS THATS' MORE THAN YOU SHOULD HAD TO GIVE. THE PROBLEM MAY LAY WITH HER NOT YOU, AND NO MAN IS GOING TO MAKE A PERSON LIKE THAT HAPPY!! THANKS. LATER TATER!! :)
Jan. 28, 2012, 4:39 pm

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