29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy
By Lemony Snicket
Illustrations by Lisa Brown
McSweeney's McMullens, 2014
This is a slightly surreal children's story by the author of the wildly popular children's series, A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions. It is apparently intended for younger children, perhaps as a read-aloud story... except that the actual story, such as it is, is more suited to kids around 9-14. It is very odd, being not a narrative, but rather a statement of 29 facts. Or myths. Or something.
#3. "Rumors around town say that there are four secrets about the Swinster Pharmacy, but no one knows what any of them are."
The main characters, unnamed and unexplained, are two kids who are quite curious about the Swinster pharmacy. They spend quite a lot of time investigating it. Some of the 29 things they discover are ridiculously mundane. Some are ridiculously mundane, but expressed rather poetically. Some are cryptic. Some are sinister. Sometimes you just don't know. And by the end of the story, you still don't know.
#11. "When the town aches, the Swinster Pharmacy aches with it."
Each 'myth' is only a sentence or two long, and most of them are not particularly interesting. It is also unclear why they are referred to as myths -- most of them clearly would not normally be framed as such. There is much more missing from this story than is present, and it doesn't really seem that it could make much sense. But it is an amusing, interesting, and quite curious tale, and it is worth reading (after all, it won't take very long). I would guess that this was written for the same fan base as Snicket's All The Wrong Questions series, although there is no obvious tie other than the cryptic subject matter and Snicket's rather odd sense of humor. It is certainly not targeted at the usual reader of children's picture books, and may be one of those books that cannot be recommended by age but rather only by reference to other books the reader has enjoyed. For what it's worth, I did enjoy it.
#13. "I think the Swinster Pharmacy is closed on weekends."
Is there something sinister about the pharmacy? Is there something creepy about the kids who are so obsessed with a random pharmacy? Is the whole thing just a big, boring waste of time? We may never know.
"I'm not allowed to talk about the Swinster Pharmacy."