Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting V under the
more flexible V of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another,
smaller, V. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The V motif
was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases
above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down from high flat
temples in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a
A young woman came through the doorway. She advanced slowly, with
tentative steps, looking at Spade with cobalt-blue eyes that were both
shy and probing. She was tall and pliantly slender, without angularity
anywhere. Her body was erect and high-breasted, her legs long, her hands
and feet narrow. She wore two shades of blue that had been selected
because of her eyes. The hair curling from under her blue hat was darkly
red, her full lips more brightly red. White teeth glistened in the
crescent her timid smile made.
Have you found the time to report on what you believe was in the sugar bowl that was so vital to everyone searching for it?
The issue here is that Daniel Handler never meant for the Sugar Bowl to hold anything identifiable. It’s a McGuffin (this trope is lampshaded in “The End” by Sunny): an element which is supposed to drive the story forward in terms of plot but is never supposed to become its focus. “A Series Of Unfortunate Events” is full of McGuffins which are introduced and progressively forgotten: the Baudelaire fortune, the Snicket file, the survivor of the Baudelaire fire, etc. At this point it is safe to say that, if Daniel Handler is not interested in determining the contents of the Sugar Bowl, we’ll never find out either.
The most satisfying solution is to believe the Sugar Bowl held an important piece of information, either a recording or a written document. Which would mean we’re solving the problem without actually answering the question.
Another interesting theory is that what the Sugar Bowl contains is not actually that significant or interesting. The people who actually knew its contents have been dead for a long time and everyone else is just pretending to know why it’s so important. Such a wild goose chase would be reminiscent of “The Maltese Falcon”, a book extensively referenced throughout “All The Wrong Questions”.
So, I spent like two hours just now cataloging every book currently in my possession (not including stuff on my Kindle, or things that are in storage for safekeeping, i.e., sets of Dickens and Shakespeare published in the 1800s).
So, here’s a list of all the books I currently own, organized by category and then alphabetized by author, because I work in a bookstore and that’s how we do things.