- Fizzy Thoughts: Starting off the new year with good book karma

Starting off the new year with good book karma

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Marisha Pessl
2006
514 pages

I loved this book. Loved it. It's quirky and full of implausible twists, and the author uses more parentheses than I do (and I know I use them lots). And it has more similes (not to mention metaphors and analogies) than Carter has little pills (I think I'm channeling the author right now). It's a little too weird to be jiggy quality (sorry, Lisa, I'm still searching), but I appreciate weirdness in books. After all, I read The Roaches Have No King, the pinnacle of booky weirdness. And keep in mind I didn't like The Poisonwood Bible. Just offering a little perspective so you can get a feel for my sometimes dubious taste in books.

So, how to describe this book? Let's start with a few characters:
Blue van Meer - the 16 year old narrator. Highly educated and scarily literate, she is being raised by her father,
Gareth van Meer - single dad, college professor, chick magnet
the Bluebloods - the school clique that Blue falls in with during her senior year
Hannah Schneider - film teacher, illicit friend and mentor to the Bluebloods

And I just realized I can't really explain what this book is about. A few people die, prompting Blue to research increasingly bizarre clues and leading to the above mentioned twists. As she relates how it all unfolds, she constantly references famous, obscure and fictional works, as well as popular culture. I can't really discuss the story, or it ruins the fun and the surprises.

I'm thinking this book has a certain niche market. If you appreciate first-time authors who take certain liberties with language and structure, who have an appreciation for both classic literature and popular culture, who definitely have a wry sense of humor, and who could probably tighten up their plotting a bit but that's okay you don't care, then I'd recommend this book. If you want it and promise to give it a chance, let me know. I'll send it your way.

1 comment(s):

JK said...

Ok, you sold me -- atually, I took as a sign from God to read this book, since yours was the third straight blog I saw it on... and all had good things to say -- thanks!

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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