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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 read another review where the person had trouble choosing between three and four stars, and I can relate. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alicia
This is a brilliant book, an exhausting, captivating, wild ride of a book. The reader reviews were helpful. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D.R.M..
Blue van Meer isn't all that different from other teenage girls, other than she's exceptionally smart and has lived in far too many places for someone so young. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Daniel Estes
Captivated, bowled over, swept up, caught up, I'll never forget the voices.Published 2 months ago by Jamie Kreiman
I read this novel twice, and each time I uncovered additional clues and information regarding the protagonist that created the fine-tuned mystery enveloping the whole story. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jeannie Bain
I have read many books twice, some three, four, five times. Yet never in my half-century of reading have I turned immediately from the last page to begin a book again. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Marisha Pessl is a magnificent writer. Blue Van Meer, main character Of Special Topics, is a captivating young girl. Because of her narrative, I couldn't help but enter her world. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Flavia O. Carvalho