they may not mean to, but they do

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So this weekend, among other things, I read Lemony Snicket's The End. As Mr. Snicket so often does, he includes as little motifs several phrases that pay off near the end of the book. (No real spoilers here, don't worry.) One such phrase is "coastal shelf."

Coastal shelf. Coastal shelf. What do I associate that phrase with?, I thought.

Oh yes. That's what.

At a significant point in the plot, one character utters it in the context I was thinking of: the final stanza of Philip Larkin's "This Be the Verse." Unsurprisingly, the first two stanzas are not quoted, and the poet and title are not identified. Here's Stephen Burt on Larkin, including the entirety of the poem.

Lemony Snicket is an EVIL GENIUS.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas published on October 15, 2006 11:05 PM.

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