As we all know, it is A Good Thing To Read To Your Children. But what if Junior's bedtime has arrived and you don't feel like reading (or reciting) Goodnight Moon or Where The Wild Things Are for the umpteenth time? Well, you could always make up a story on your own. And here's some advice for doing so from the world's most dyspeptic children's author, Lemony Snicket, author of the Series of Unfortunate Events books:
1. Ask your child what the title should be. This stalls for time and spreads the blame if the story's no good.
2. Name the villains after people who wronged you in high school.
3. When you get stuck, remember Raymond Chandler's advice: "When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns." The bedtime equivalent is a clumsy talking animal holding a tray of cream pies.
4. At the end of the story, all of the characters should be very, very tired.
5. Don't bring your cocktail, because you might accidentally leave it and wake your child when you sneak back to retrieve it. Alternately, you may forget about it entirely and three days later someone will find a warm martini on you child's dresser.
Thanks to the hipness website "Daily Candy" and the New Yorker blog "Book Bench" for conveying these rules to grateful parents everywhere. By the way, Mr. Snicket has a new book out entitled, The Composer Is Dead, and it's available at Accent on Books.