SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS

18 Nov
Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) 2007 Soft cover 514 pages Fiction

Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) 2007
Soft cover 514 pages
Fiction

“HAPPINESS IS A HOUND DOG IN THE SUN. WE AREN’T HERE ON EARTH TO BE HAPPY, BUT TO EXPERIENCE INCREDIBLE THINGS.”

Took me a couple days to get acclimated to my new holiday surroundings, but now that I’m feeling comfortable, I’ve begun to dwindle-down my new TBR table.

I began by reading Calamity Physics, where I always begin, by flipping through this ‘good condition with some interior writing’ used book (I’d rather have a well read book than a new one). So, anyway – this book has a few visual aids, including some ‘previous owner’s dog-eared pages with notations’. Interesting to see what interests others. But enough of me.

This is a complex murder mystery, intelligently written as a syllabus in a first person matter-of-fact voice. The structure and style of Pessl’s first novel is the ‘hook’, in my opinion, and the maze of continual changing plot-lines is so clever that if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss the heart of the matter.

Idiosyncratic comes to mind when the narrator, Blue van Meer attends a prestigious school in the Smoky Mountains. She becomes embroiled with a group of anti-social snobbish academics, and a teacher, Hannah Schneider, who is and has been the focus of our attention since page one even though she has already been murdered by the time we arrive. Theories abound as the reader follows, in flashback mode, along a thin line that leads us to the why and how of the murder, from Blue’s fascinating point of view.

The characters are brilliantly portrayed, and a fondness grows as the pages turn. The format of Pessl’s book is engaging right down to the many literary references including a Core Curriculum, which I intend to follow, once I return home:

– The House of Seven Gables (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
– The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Agatha Christie)
– Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
– Laughter in the Dark (Vladimir Nabokov)
– The Metamorphoses (Ovid)

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3 Responses to “SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS”

  1. Lady Fancifull November 18, 2014 at 8:59 p11 #

    Oh I’m so glad you have been hooked by this! And I’m amused to see that you too are a fan of ‘used’ books. Finding someone else’s comments and underlinings is such a pleasure! – the anodyne 18 other people highlighted this on the Kindle comes no where close. I really don’t CARE about the fact that anonymous readers underlined, but ONE person’s underlining with their tatty pencil/ curious rainbow coloured crayon/forceful black ink, plus, even better, arcane arguments refuting or agreeing with what the author has said, hastily scrawled reminders ‘collect SHOES’ ‘ Mamie – Thursday 16th – don’t forget’ etc etc. It raises the value of the book immeasurably in my mind Sneak previews into other lives!

    • WORDMAN November 18, 2014 at 8:59 p11 #

      It’s like taking a glimpse through an open window in someone else’s house as you stroll by. Interesting to glean how a stranger lives. This is how I view a used book that has been written-in by a previous owner. An imaginary glimpse into a life unknown. Thank you for your comment.

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  1. NIGHT FILM | WORDMAN - December 18, 2014

    […] first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, reviewed here was bold, and written in the author’s genius. This second endeavor, always in my own opinion of […]

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