This piece was submitted by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman as part of the 2015 PEN World Voices Online Anthology.

Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman’s event: Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman: Hurry Up and Wait Party

The Illustrated PEN is a weekly online series that aspires to be at the intersection of literature, journalism, and visual storytelling, where images and words come together in an ever-emerging and essential creative form. We’ll feature fiction and nonfiction graphic narratives, comics journalism and illustrated reportage, stories of social justice and personal stories that can’t be told through words alone.

Hurry Up and Wait is the latest collaboration between artist Maira Kalman, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), and the Museum of Modern Art—a whimsical collection of Kalman’s illustrations inspired by some of the world’s most celebrated photographers, accompanied by photographs from MoMA’s collection and Handler’s thought-provoking prose that ponders the merits of action and slowing down.


Somewhere in the world, always,
somebody is twenty minutes late for something,
and I am annoyed at them. 


If you can’t get there by yourself, someone

might be able to take you. They might be
going that way anyway, or more likely you will
give them money and they’ll do it.


This is the history of the entire world.


I was going to say something more about
hurrying, but why take up your time? You
have things to do. You can flip through this
and go on to what it is that’s waiting for you,
the next thing.


And by this I mean everything. 


All childhood long they told me to 
hurry up, and now all this
later I can’t imagine what the rush was.
But every morning my child never puts on
his shoes on time, and we have to go,
we have to go. 


When I was a kid my father would say,
if you get lost, don’t look for me.
Stay there. Stay there and I will find you.

He’s gone now.


We’re talking about transportation, are we?
The way we go, quick or slow, one place
to another? Or are we talking about the fact
that we never go anywhere?

What time is it?


Some people, surely,
die on the way to something.

Then we call them the
late so-and-so.


If you had to leave right this
minute forever, what would you
take with you?

Just this. Just this.





Hurry Up and Wait is published by The Museum of Modern Art.


The Photographs [in order of appearance]

1) Garry Winogrand. New York City. 1961. 13 3⁄8 × 8 7⁄8″ (34 × 22.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist. © 2015 The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

2) Helen Levitt, American. New York. 1982. 9 9/16 x 6 7/16” (24.3 x 16.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Marvin Hoshino in memory of Ben Maddow. © 2014 The Estate of Helen Levitt

3) Rudy Burckhardt. From the album Photographs by Rudolph Burckhardt; Sonnet by Edwin Denby. 1946-47. 7 15/16 x 11 3/16” (20.2 x 28.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of CameraWorks, Inc. and Purchase. © 2014 Rudy Burckhardt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

4) Judith Joy Ross. Untitled, from Eurana Park, Weatherly, Pennsylvania. 1982. Gelatin silver printing-out-paper print, 9 5⁄8 x 7 11⁄16″ (24.5 x 19.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Richard O. Rieger. 

5) © 2015 Maira Kalman

6) O. Winston Link. Last Steam Locomotive Run on Norfolk and Western, Radford Division. December 31, 1957. 13 ¹⁄2 × 10 13⁄16″ (34.2 × 27.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase. © 2015 Estate of O. Winston Link

7) Eugène Atget. Untitled [ragpicker]. 1899–1900. Gelatin silver printing-out-paper print, 8  11⁄16 × 6 9⁄16″ (22 × 16.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New york. Abbott-Levy Collection. Partial gift of Shirley C. Burden.

8) Dorothea Lange. On the Road to Los Angeles, California. 1937. 8 × 7 3⁄4″ (20.4 × 19.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Farm Security Administration.