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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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5,196None855 (3.65)284
Member:herzogbr
Title:Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Authors:Marisha Pessl
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2007), Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:2007-10, fiction, literature, growing up, father, daughter, high school, philosophy, night watchmen, the night watchmen, conspiracy, laurie

Work details

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Recently added byY2Ash, sunybookworm, patsaintsfan, dysmonia, elvisettey, Laura_Jones, broselee, private library
(25) 2006 (19) 2007 (43) 21st century (39) academia (47) American (48) American literature (52) coming of age (108) contemporary (42) contemporary fiction (48) crime (21) family (22) fathers and daughters (31) fiction (804) high school (105) library (20) literary fiction (22) literature (76) murder (66) mystery (276) North Carolina (25) novel (122) own (33) read (74) read in 2007 (35) Roman (20) school (21) to-read (107) unread (51) USA (40)
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    SqueakyChu: Both books offer sharp humor offered by a student.
  4. 10
    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.
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    SqueakyChu: Both books offer in-detail insights into life as a young adult when interacting with others.
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    sarahemmm: This is worth trying if you like the unusual format of Pessl's book.
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    SqueakyChu: Both books look at issues encountered by one particular student.
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» See also 284 mentions

English (234)  Dutch (7)  French (5)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (250)
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
Did that just happened?

Correction: What just happened?

Seriously, because I am bundles of confusion, and I need a Rosetta Stone to decipher what I just read. I really wanted to like Special Topics. I have no idea. I just had an irrational need to do so. It happens but every time it does happen, I end up severely disappointed.

Kind of like I am now.

Severely disappointed.

The truth is that I did like the harmless aspect of the story: a very precocious teenage girl is tired of traveler life with her very smart but arrogant father and wants to spend her senior year in one place. I would have invested in that kind of growing pains story. Pessl could have even kept the highly annoying Bluebloods since variations of them undoubtly exist in any high school setting.

I liked the main character Blue Van Meer. She was a combination of Dawson Leery and Juno.

Sure, it might have been slightly cliché and would not have been Pessl's magnum opus but it would have sufficed. It's evident that Pessl is a very good writer so she could have made the cliché work. However, she decides to throw in the weird Night Watch radical conspiracy theory along with the Gareth-Natasha-Hanna Schneider connection and it just may everything go haywired.

What was that?

Did Hanna kill herself?

Was she murdered?

By Gareth?

Why did Gareth abandoned Blue?

Then, Pessl had the audacity to leave everything extremely vague and confusing.

Am I missing the point of this novel?

Did I miss the point?

Can anybody tell me what happened? ( )
  Y2Ash | Apr 16, 2014 |
This book was beautiful and I very much enjoyed it. However, I feel the nuances were lost on me, like a rhinocerous playing with a robin's eggshell. Perhaps one day someone more smart and subtle than I am will explain this novel to me and I will have the opportunity to fully appreciate it... ( )
  dysmonia | Apr 15, 2014 |
This book was beautiful and I very much enjoyed it. However, I feel the nuances were lost on me, like a rhinocerous playing with a robin's eggshell. Perhaps one day someone more smart and subtle than I am will explain this novel to me and I will have the opportunity to fully appreciate it... ( )
  dysmonia | Apr 15, 2014 |
I recently read Marisha Pessl's second book Night Film and loved it so much that I awarded it one of my rare Five Star Ratings. As a result, I was really, really looking forward to reading her debut.

I should have been alarmed by the "One of the 10 Best Books of the Year according to the New York Times Book Review" tag. When was the last time I perused the NYT book review section and found anything that piqued my interest? Never, that's when, because I read things that seem interesting, not things that are meant to make me seem interesting to other people.

I only made it through 70 of the 500 pages of this book, and the idea of slogging through the rest made me want to cry. Dear LAWRD is it pretentious. It's crammed full of the most esoteric references (all cited as if it were an academic paper) arranged in paragraph-long sentences of phrases strung together by more commas than any one page should contain. I felt like I was running out of breath as I was reading. To make matters worse, the main character and her father are INSUFFERABLE blowhards who think that memorizing boatloads of obscure facts make them so much better than all the lowly peons who can't breezily spout off references to books written in 1641 about mollusks.

I think this is the first time I've ever given a 1-star rating and a 5-star rating to the same author. Maybe all the critical acclaim she got for her first book made her relax and realize she didn't have to try so painfully hard anymore to make people think highly of her. I sure hope so, because I want to keep reading books that are like Night Film. ( )
1 vote BrookeAshley | Mar 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 234 (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
Marisha Pesslprimary 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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:41 -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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