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

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

Maira Kalman illustrated “Why we broke up,” — and promises she’s had her fair share of heartache.
Photo by Rick Meyerowitz

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 www.wordbrooklyn.com.

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

Go see Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler read from their new book, “Why We Broke Up,” a young adult novel about a recently estranged teenage couple, at WORD on Jan. 19.

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