Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a darkly hilarious coming-of-age novel and a richly plotted suspense tale told through the distinctive voice of its heroine, Blue van Meer. After a childhood moving from one academic outpost to another with her father (a man prone to aphorisms and meteoric affairs), Blue is clever, deadpan, and possessed of a vast lexicon of literary, political, philosophical, and scientific knowledgeand is quite the cineaste to boot. In her final year of high school at the elite (and unusual) St. Gallway School in Stockton, North Carolina, Blue falls in with a charismatic group of friends and their captivating teacher, Hannah Schneider. But when the drowning of one of Hannah's friends and the shocking death of Hannah herself lead to a confluence of mysteries, Blue is left to make sense of it all with only her gimlet-eyed instincts and cultural references to guideor misguideher.
Structured around a syllabus for a Great Works of Literature class and containing ironic visual aids (drawn by the author), Pessl's debut novel is complex yet compelling, erudite yet accessible. It combines the suspense of Hitchcock, the self-parody of Dave Eggers, and the storytelling gifts of Donna Tartt with a dazzling intelligence and wit entirely Pessl's own....Continua
A woman and her life, her past. She has written many household book for example about the perfect laudry or the perfect gardening. But now she's involved in the most important book of her life...She wants to teach the best way to die but finally the result is a book about life, in its infinite shades....Continua
Language is prickly, story unrolls but the truth is I'm just not interested in high school kids (except my own)...
A terrific book! A compelling story, written in an original language, packed with irony, sadness, and quotes both from high and pop culture.
It explores so many topics: what it's like to be a teenager, social dynamics in an American high school, father-daughter relationships; dealing with the loss of loved ones, with growing up and with disillusionment. The writer manages all this without ever getting boring, pretentious or whiny on the reader.
It sort of slows down in the middle, but since the last part is like a roller-coaster, that doesn't really matter. I stumbled upon it in a library, and I am so very glad I found it: it kept me fantastic company for just over a week. Definitely recommended!...Continua
A group of students under the influence of a charismatic teacher. They have dinner at her house, tell her their worries and woes and she in turn tells them almost nothing. She is the quintessential sympathetic listener without identity, and the students become almost frantic to provide her with their own projected identity. And then Something Happens.
I loved it. The story is great, the style is great, the main characters are believable, lovable and a little silly. The theme and tone reminded me of 'The secret history'. If you loved that one, try this....Continua
This is the story of Blue, a high school student who has been raised by her father since the death of her mother when she was 5. Her father is an egotistic intellect and works as a visiting professor of political science around the country. He is a mixture of boorishness and charm and is very exacting in his education of his daughter. The two have developed a complicated strategy to keep the rest of the world at bay: a mixture of disdain for pretty much everyone outside their circle of two, while constantly on the move between second rate universities, and rigorous pursuit of Blue's education. They pride themselves on their depth of knowledge and their verbal sparring agility, and Blue, from whose point of view the book is written, compulsively provides citations for absolutely everything, right down to the way a friend walks. She is also very liberal with metaphors and similes: some just a phrase, some extending the length of the book, some strained, many delightfully imaginative. The book covers Blue's final year of high school which her father decides to spend in one location where Blue can attend a private high school in preparation for college. Here Blue finally makes friends of a sort, although the teacher who provides the cohesion is soon found dead. The rest of the book untangles the mystery of her death and Blue's relationship with her dad. All in all a very imaginatively done book that was fun to read....Continua