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Special Topics in Calamity Physics Paperback – April 24, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
And when I say marathon, I mean marathon. Most reviewers have noted the length of the book, weighing in at over 500 pages. Individual sentences stretched on and on with strange metaphors, literary allusions and references, and parenthetical comments galore. Much of it was dense academic blathering--in character, to be sure, but still very annoying to read. Oftentimes I'd find myself strugging with a long sentence, breathlessly awaiting a period like a drowing person begging for someone to throw her a life preserver. If you can get through this style of writing, there is a compelling story waiting to be decoded, but this book won't be for everyone. Though I felt like I was cheating a bit, after the first half of the story I gave myself permission to give up on close textual analysis and read like a skipping stone. The author's pacing picked up in the later stages of the book as well, but as a reader I did make a conscious choice to step in as an editor.
If you still think you'd enjoy the book, I'd say stop reading the reviews and just go read it.Read more ›
Like others, once I began it I found it to be a slow read but have stuck with it for whatever reason, be it a masochistic tendency to finish something started or a hope to see potential realized.
I won't make the mistake of attacking the author for her choices in the novel or drawing assumptions about her talent; I can hardly fault her for her colorful language when it is often my favorite type of writing.
Indeed, Pessl is at her strongest when she is comparing things to other things via her wordy similes and metaphors and this is perhaps the book's chief failing: she so often compares characters to "Snow Egrets" or a "Saguaro cactus" that it is difficult to see them as people. In fact, the book seems to revel more in words and descriptions than in people.
Garreth, the protagonist's father, disdains to teach at upper-tier schools because he feels they are not in need of enlightenment, and instead ordains himself a sort of Prometheus bringing fire to his romanticized Common Man.
This feeling of superiority on the parts of Blue and her father to every other person is what most grated me about this novel, as it seems it did other people. Garreth creates an idyllic image of the Common Man and seems to feel they are blessed to have him bring wisdom to their poor, ignorant lives and yet he is recounted as driving 20 miles out of his way to avoid eating at a roadside diner where the common kind of man eats. Garreth seems to detest every student he has, giving them derisory nicknames and ridiculing them to his daughter; one wonders why it is then that he bothers to teach?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really loved this book most of the way through. The protagonist, and her relationship with her father, are interesting and funny, and the protagonist's narrative sets the story... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Hela Girl
This book is sparkling with intelligence. It's a fantastic story that meanders amongst the clinical, the whimsical, and the terrifying. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Sedina
Love this book...one of my favorite books I've read in a while.Published 3 months ago by Osvaldo Salvatierra
A little challenging to get through, but satisfying by the end. I found the way the character wrote/thought a little distracting, in that I had to reread some passages to remember... Read morePublished 4 months ago by This Chick Reads
I loved this book. First I listened to an unabridged audio book, but felt I missed a lot because I was laughing, or the pace was too fast for me to appreciate the allusions and... Read morePublished 4 months ago by J H
This tale of a 16 year old girl grabbed me right away, and did not let go until the very end. Blue Van Meer lost her mother as a child, and has roamed the country with her... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Irenic
This is one of those books that requires patience and perseverance as it does not begin to captivate until 3/8 of the way in. Read morePublished 6 months ago by CupofTea
Marisha Pessl wrote a humdinger of a first book!. This is a coming of age story and a deep mystery. A history lesson, a literature class and art appreciation all rolled into one. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer