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Special Topics in Calamity Physics by…
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Special Topics in Calamity Physics (edition 2007)

by Marisha Pessl

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5,449270794 (3.65)303
Member:hyper13
Title:Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Authors:Marisha Pessl
Info:Penguin Books (2007), Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

Work details

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

  1. 142
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Eumenides, shellibrary, Littlemissmops)
  2. 20
    The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (lyzadanger)
    lyzadanger: Precocious young women in small towns.
  3. 20
    The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (zhejw)
    zhejw: I loved both books, but Pessl's is a notch up in language, character development, and plot. Lockhart's is the place for teens to start.
  4. 10
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (Littlemissmops)
  5. 10
    The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (kinsey_m)
  6. 10
    The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both books offer in-detail insights into life as a young adult when interacting with others.
  7. 10
    My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both books offer sharp humor offered by a student.
  8. 43
    Likewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag by Ariel Schrag (lorax)
  9. 00
    Among Others by Jo Walton (sturlington)
  10. 11
    Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (lycomayflower)
  11. 11
    Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson (Mossa)
  12. 00
    The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (krist_ellis)
  13. 12
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (krist_ellis)
  14. 01
    Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday (sarahemmm)
    sarahemmm: This is worth trying if you like the unusual format of Pessl's book.
  15. 34
    Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both books look at issues encountered by one particular student.
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» See also 303 mentions

English (255)  Dutch (7)  French (5)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (271)
Showing 1-5 of 255 (next | show all)
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl is narrated by Blue Van Meer, daughter of a highly intelligent but itinerant history professor Gareth. Blue's mother died in a tragic car accident when she was 5, and since then she has traveled across the country, from one university or college to another with her father. Blue is telling us her life story, but more specifically, the story of her senior year of high school when she was attending the elite St. Gallway school. There she became part of an elite group of students who were protégé's of part time film instructor Hannah Schneider. We know right at the beginning that Hannah Schneider dies but need to hear Blue's story told in her own unique way to learn what happens.

In Special Topics in Calamity Physics, each chapter is the title of a novel from a core curriculum. Novels (chapters) included: Othello, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Wuthering Heights, The House of Seven Gables, The Woman in White, Brave New World, Pygmalion, A Moveable Feast, Sweet Bird of Youth, Deliverance, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Bleak House, Justine, Things Fall Apart, The Trial, Paradise Lost, and Metamorphoses, to name a few.

There is a mystery that needs to be solved but it's not until the very end that you piece all the facts together, even though you may have some questions long before then. Blue is an extremely intelligent young narrator who frequently quotes various other books or scholarly works in her narrative. Pessl also has Blue cleverly include drawings of pictures in the text as numbered visual aids. (Others can be seen on the author's website.)

While this is a very clever novel, I can see where the incessant references to other sources could become exasperating due to the sheer volume of them for some readers. Although, in the end, they perhaps help to prove that Blue's intellectual capacity surpasses that of her father' (It's not until page 468 we find out the reason for the book's title.)

I would highly recommend Special Topics in Calamity Physics. http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
INITIAL REACTION: oh my god. OH MY GOD.

***

This book. This book may be my book of 2015. It is everything. I loved the crap out of it. I loved the voice, I loved the story, I loved the characters, I ruined dinner because of this book (protip: don't try to read and salt the dinner at the same time. Turns out too much salt tastes absolutely dreadful). I did not see the whole unfolding plot coming but I was so excited with each thing that happened. Yeah, it is super-referential, and I'm pretty sure I understood fewer than half of those references, but I didn't even care. It was a contstruct that I could get behind, something that I could really immerse myself in and say "okay, so this is how it's going to be. Let's run with it!"

I want to buy this book for everyone I've ever met. I can't explain it, there was just this magic about it. I really, really want to read Night Film now.






Eeeeeep. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
The way this book is set up is so clever, I immediately loved it. I also thought that the plot was equal parts relatable and realistic (her high school days) and still suspenseful and unpredictable. I really loved it. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
INITIAL REACTION: oh my god. OH MY GOD.

***

This book. This book may be my book of 2015. It is everything. I loved the crap out of it. I loved the voice, I loved the story, I loved the characters, I ruined dinner because of this book (protip: don't try to read and salt the dinner at the same time. Turns out too much salt tastes absolutely dreadful). I did not see the whole unfolding plot coming but I was so excited with each thing that happened. Yeah, it is super-referential, and I'm pretty sure I understood fewer than half of those references, but I didn't even care. It was a contstruct that I could get behind, something that I could really immerse myself in and say "okay, so this is how it's going to be. Let's run with it!"

I want to buy this book for everyone I've ever met. I can't explain it, there was just this magic about it. I really, really want to read Night Film now.






Eeeeeep. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
INITIAL REACTION: oh my god. OH MY GOD.

***

This book. This book may be my book of 2015. It is everything. I loved the crap out of it. I loved the voice, I loved the story, I loved the characters, I ruined dinner because of this book (protip: don't try to read and salt the dinner at the same time. Turns out too much salt tastes absolutely dreadful). I did not see the whole unfolding plot coming but I was so excited with each thing that happened. Yeah, it is super-referential, and I'm pretty sure I understood fewer than half of those references, but I didn't even care. It was a contstruct that I could get behind, something that I could really immerse myself in and say "okay, so this is how it's going to be. Let's run with it!"

I want to buy this book for everyone I've ever met. I can't explain it, there was just this magic about it. I really, really want to read Night Film now.






Eeeeeep. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 255 (next | show all)
Her exhilarating synthesis of the classic and the modern, frivolity and fate — “Pnin” meets “The O.C.” — is a poetic act of will. Never mind jealous detractors: virtuosity is its own reward. And this skylarking book will leave readers salivating for more.

 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pessl, Marishaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Card, Emily JaniceNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dad always said a person must have a magnificent reason for writing out his or her Life Story and expecting anyone to read it.
"Unless your name is something along the lines of Mozart, Matisse, Churchill, or Bond--James Bond--you best spend your free time finger painting or playing shuffleboard, for no one, with the exception of your flabby-armed mother with stiff hair and a mashed-potato way of looking at you, will want to hear the particulars of your pitiable existence, which doubtlessly will end as it began--with a wheeze."
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the dazzling debut of Marisha Pessl, is a buoyant combination of comedy, tragedy, mystery, and romance, a story of disturbing secrets and the eccentric high school student who uncovers them. It is a coming-of-age tale and a disturbing mystery. a snapshot of the dark relationship between ideology and violence but also the poignant tale of a young woman learning to stand on her own.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143112120, Paperback)

?Dazzling,? (People) ?Exuberant,? (Vogue) ?marvelously entertaining,? (The Dallas Morning News) Marisha Pessl?s mesmerizing debut has critics raving and heralds the arrival of a vibrant new voice in American fiction. At the center of this ?cracking good read?4 is clever, deadpan Blue van Meer, who has a head full of literary, philosophical, scientific, and cinematic knowledge. But she could use some friends. Upon entering the elite St. Gallway school, she finds some?a clique of eccentrics known as the Bluebloods. One drowning and one hanging later, Blue finds herself puzzling out a byzantine murder mystery. Nabokov meets Donna Tartt (then invites the rest of the Western Canon to the party) in this novel?with ?visual aids? drawn by the author?that has won over readers of all ages.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In a plot modeled after the syllabus of a college literature course, teen narrator Blue Van Meer and her father Gareth end ten years of wandering by settling in Stockton, N.C. There, Blue befriends, sort of, a group of eccentric geniuses (referred to by their classmates as the Bluebloods) and their ringleader, film studies teacher Hannah Schneider. As Blue becomes enmeshed with Hannah and the Bluebloods, the novel becomes a murder mystery when a friend of Hannah's dies at a party the kids have crashed.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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