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An send me a picture of a blubbery Mercedes Authwhore will award you with a free book that is better than Special Topics in Calamity PhysicsAt one point people say their names with paint by numbers politeness This is a problem because paint by numbers are not polite They can be tacky painstaking time consuming fun childish whimsical or any number of other things but I on t think that there is anything polite about paint by numbers and certainly nothing polite about a writer using such poorly chosen imagery with reckless abandon and intending people read 514 pages of itAt one point he either stared at the kid as if he were a Price is Right rerun barely blinking or replied in his molasses accent Nunna ya goddamn business How Requiem for a Wren do you stare at a Price is Right rerun Well Pessl knows that no one knows so she tells us You barely blink Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhshouldn t she then just have wrote that he stared barely blinking instead of staring as if he were a Price is Right rerun barely blinking Yes Yes she should have And that is why this book is categorically officially absolutely bad If you re still wondering how exactly you stare at a Price is Right rerun this book will also leave you wondering how you look at a snag in tights Riveting stuff reallyAt one point Officer Donnie Lee happened to have saturated himself in Paul Revere like cologne it rode far ahead of him alerting all of his impending arrival Whichoesn t even work Paul Revere rode to warn people not of his own arrival but of the British s So I guess that s why it s Paul Revere like But isn t there a better image for something that travels ahead to warn of itself A fog horn perhaps A screeching buzzer on a truckAt one point Hannah was wearing a housedress the color of sandpaper The color of sandpaper Pessl how imprecise can you be Is there a worse writer What type What grit What brand I ve seen gray sandpaper black sandpaper brown sandpaper rust sandpaper beige sandpaperAt one point the narratorprotagonist has a fight with her father and proceeds to throw books at him I was really hoping to learn that Marisha Pessl had some true postmodern class and sense of humor by having her throw this book at himIt Red Notice didn t happenI threw my own copy insteadFor the record Marisha Pessl is still hotNot Sophie Dahl hot But still hot There s a special cold black place in my heart for writers under thirty who come out of nowhere with a best selling much praised first novel for which they receive huge advances and instant fame The feeling is called jealousyeep shoulda been me jealousy that clouds my ability to judge the book itselfWhich brings us to Marisha Pessl and Special Topics in Calamity Physics Every big review I read of it was glowing and every writer under thirty I talked to said it was a piece of steaming shit but that I should totally read the novel they re working on Turns out that my opinion falls somewhere suarely in the middleThe parts of the book that failed were the overly uirky bits and the gimmicky bits Although the narrator is characterized as smart and scholarly much of the book is over written especially Les pingouins nont jamais froid during slow periods Whato I MEAN BY OVER WRITTEN DESCRIBING mean by over written Describing pair of boots as being the shape of Italy or someone s face being shaped like a box of Valentines Day candy Say the boots were shaped like boots Say the woman had a heart shaped facePessl leans hard on the simile and the metaphor in this book many hard on the simile and the metaphor in this book many at the expense of simple straightforward Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone description By having a complex intelligent narrator she s trying to say I moing it on purpose but it still seems indulgent and silly and ultimately keeps us holding her world at arm s lengthPessl also struggles with Code pnal 2020 annot. dition limite - 117e d. dialogue and realistic characters often I found myself thinking that high school student would never say that or that gas station attendant would never say that All of the characters tended to sound the same and think the same Sure if it was a high school student Pessl would add some likes and a reference to J Lo but mostly the person would sound like the voice of the narrator a voice which I am guessing is the voice of Pessl herselfBut there is some beautiful writing in the book Entire chapters were I ll say it riveting Without exception the riveting chapters were the chapters with a lot of action in them chapters where it felt like Pessl forgot that she was a writer trying to impress people with her first novel In these chapters boots were boot shaped the language was natural and the characters got to act like themselvesThese good chapters led me to the conclusion that Pessl s problem might beiscipline She The Peoples Songs doesn t know when to cut out the cute or overly wrought stuff yet The Writing Buddha says kill your children and Pessl time and again couldn t manage too that The result is a book filled with things that made the author smile City of Big Shoulders dalliances and clever asides thaton t Blind Devotion (The Shifter Chronicles do much except make the book longer I suspect she also lacked an editor who could kill those children for herThe plot was aight It was a pretty basic murder mystery formula and I guessed the end 150 pages before the end happened even though I m not good at guessing endings It would have been much better and much fast moving if again someone author or editor had cut itown to a manageable lengthWhere My Name is Bob does that leave us I think Pessl s got some talent I think that for a first novel this was an achievement On the other hand she s got a ways to go and I hope all of the praiseoes not set her firmly in some of her ways Talent is something you re born with and being born with talent is easy Now she s got some hard work ahead of her about learning when to hold back and about learning about the human condition outside of her own privileged experiences. Ing 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 rawn by the author that has won over readers of all age. Special Topics in Calamity PhysicsWhat have I learned I ve learned that apparently it s possible for a large number of fawning reviewers to confuse pretentious with intelligent I very likely got what I eserved when I chose to ignore a clear warning namely the so called Glossary of Terms inside the Billy Bragg dustjacket which introduced our 16 year old heroine Blue van Meer as a brainyeadpan preternaturally erudite girl whohas a head cra I tried with this book I gave it 150 pages and at this moment in time I just can t get into it The constant literary allusions and pop culture references mixed with the Polly Prices Totally Secret Diary didactic and wordy writing style kept pushing me out of the story I skim whole paragraphs just to find the important plot moving parts of the sentences I held out hope for this one because I chose it for book club sorry friends and it s been on my shelf for 2 years so I felt like I had to conuer it But it s only ay 3 of 2017 and I on t want to start off my year forcing myself to read a book I m not enjoying even if that means uitting on the first book of the year Now I m on to better reads Donna Tartt wrote a splendid book called The Secret History which both celebrated and skewered hyper intellectualism as well as explored the process of interacting with a text and the pleasures of narrative The Majors Daughter devices This book follows roughly the same storyline and incidentally the storyline of Daniel Handler s The Basic Eightown to the study uestions at the end except there s absolutely no reason for the precious chapter titles and the annotated references they have no bearing on the story itself and the general effect is talking with someone who s read a lot of books and hasn t understood a Miss Shumway Waves a Wand damn one of themThe irritatingialogue is reminiscent of chick lit than of anything spoken in real life or in the realm of The Touch drama and the narrator is utterlyivorced from the grand intellectual she is supposed to be again see The Secret History for an excellent On His Majestys Service depiction of young scholars No one has any sort of believable emotional reaction to anything because no one has anyiscernable personality traits Charles Camilla and Frances wander over from Tartt s novel to halfheartedly play roles as Charles Leulah really and Nigel and then get bored and leave after the story inexplicably becomes a murder mystery The only possible killer is so obviously telegraphed from early on that all of Blue s supermarket paperback mystery sleuthing is enragingly tiresome Also there s some sort of limp romantic subplot that I guess we re supposed to care aboutSo where The Secret History is a brilliant story of the Different Class delights andangers of text and narrative and a wrenching epiction of a classical sort of madnesss Special Topics in Calamity Physics is the same book shat out and frosted with irritatingly perky metaphors and the worst ialogue I ve seen outside of a Harleuin pulper If you want to read this book and aren t a fan of Donna Tartt just read The Basic Eight which is shorter and entertaining This is a uniue book in that you really won t understand the point of anything until you finish This is a story told through books themselves a whodunnit a coming of ager Some will find this book too gimmickythe use of a syllabus outline the visual aids the fact that the first word of the book is Textbook of Wisdom dad and the last word is me thus encapsulating the entire story arch the final exam But this book made me feel the way Iid In Defence of Dogs during a college lecture on Lolita where the professor brokeown Lolita by numbers the numbers of the license plates the hotel room numbers etc They all swirled and anagrammed their way into a ridiculous formula at the end And so it turned out that not only was Nabokov churning out a literary masterpiece but a mathematical formula as well Who knew Certainly not 21 year old Me It might be gimmicky but these sort of books are the literary euivalent of walking while chewing gum while playing the cello the authors are strange maestros of many art forms And so I ve concluded that Nabokov is the silent invisible uncle of Special Topics Pessl s patron saint and not just because of the butterflies and the old professorprecocious girl pairing I ve read other reviews and I believe the negative reviews have been written by people who idn t take time to really read the book and follow it all the way through It would be easy to o It s not a book you can speed read See Ulysses by James Joyce Sometimes I ll tear through a good book in a couple of ays But there is so much in this book that you have to take your time to really comprehend it and get the good stuff out of it Marisha s writing techniue is totally uniue with stuff out of it Marisha s writing techniue is totally uniue with hundreds of references to great works of fiction movie stars reference books and other explanations of behavior I laughed and enjoyed perhaps 60 percent of these and whipped through some of them not uite following but knowing they be worth studying if I were retired and had time Basically this is a coming of age story The main character Blue has been raised by an intellectual professor who is always on the move Revenge (The Red Ledger dragging her around the country toifferent jobs with No One Wants You different universities Her motheried when she was very young so her only eep relatinship is with her father And it is a very touching and loving relationship She becomes his Mini Me in many ways They land for her senior year in a very high end private school and as she is year in a very high end private school and as she is and pulled into a group of cool kids by a very interesting and eccentric female teacher her life starts to change as she tries to become a cool teenager to ate and party to become than a smart but nerdy professor s perfect little Penguins Poems for Life daughter As all of this happens she starts to realize that her father has a few flaws has been having flings with women and treating them. The mesmerizing New York Times bestseller by the author of Night FilmMarisha Pessl’sazzling ebut sparked raves from critics and heralded the arrival of a vibrant new voice in American fiction At the center of  Special Topics in Calamity Physics is. ,

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Poorly that he has lied about some of his meetings with other professors and that there may be some kind of secret second life going on There is murder isappearances first sexual experiences shyness embarassing moments of being young and tongue tied in front of a class but than anything there is the touching love of a young girl for her father and then how she eals with some unexpected heart wrenching blows to her life Throughout the book there were ozens and Divine Beauty dozens of laugh out loud moments excellent insights into relationships and the little things that make us tick And even though much of the book was somewhat tongue in cheek the main themes came through to me loud and clear and when I finally finished up after re reading the introduction a must unless you have a photographic memory I put the bookown sad that I was finished and hoping that there will be some kind of follow up Reviews of Special Topics in Calamity Physics and the Bottle of A a Juice I Bought for Lunch Cleverly Masked as SAT Test uestionsChoicesa Special Topics in Calamity Physicsb The bottle of a a juice I bought for lunchc Both a and bd Neither a nor buestions1 I had heard good things about it2 I bought it on a whim3 If feeling extremely charitable I might call it frothy 4 It seemed sort of good in the beginni Let me start by saying that I Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone did like this book Iid Ms Pessl is probably too smart for her own good but that s never stopped me before That said as with most over intelectualized writings I had trouble getting close to her to her work There s such a lot of time spent obfuscating Down to the Sea in Ships demonstrating how clever she iseveloping stacked metaphors and allusions that the story is Wife by Wednesday (The Weekday Brides, difficult to get lost in You are constantly reminded that you are reading a novel by a very smart young lady And while some of the characters are extensivelyeveloped Hannah Jade Blue s father most of the others including our heroine Blue remain very flat She most of all has so little emotion that it s Dog Years difficult to believe her on the few occasions when she freaks out when she cries or yells you wonder Whereid that come fromAlso some of my friends have complained rightly that the last fifty ish pages seem to belong to a completely Chain of Fire different book that everything changesrastically right at the end without ample warning Which true true Although I guess that The Devils Elbow (Mrs. Bradley, didn t bother me so much because of course once it switches you can go Oh so that s why that happened and that and that But still I guess it was a little hard to swallowIn any case the book isefinitely compelling interesting imaginative original etc etc etc And really it s only her first book so she s got lots of time to improve I ll read her next one for sure I really wanted to like this bookBut it s a train wreck The literary carnage is so grotesue and horrifying you can t help but look read And I promise you just take my word for it that metaphor is better than most that Pessl uses in this The Making of a Caribbeanpreneur debut novel of hersDespite what Bayard says it s amazing what happens when you stop talking about a text and actually interact with it I ll tell you what happensisappointment Utter utter isappointmentFor all intents and purposes the it I ll tell you what happens isappointment Utter utter Kuduz disappointmentFor all intents and purposes theoesn t even start until the second half when a certain major character is found ead by the narratorprotagonist As readers we learn about the eath with the first line of Chapter 1 Before I tell you about Hannah Schneider s The Stanforth Secrets (Lovers and Ladies, death I ll tell you about my mother s So essentially the first half of the book amounts to literary blue balls in which Pessl torments us with bad writing and we writhe in agony praying for releaseIt is a common formula to take the wit and wisdom of an adult and transplant it into an adolescent from Catcher in the Rye to Juno Pessl brings this trite techniue to a new low Unlike the social relevance and humor of Diablo Cody or the sparse unfathomable brilliance of Salinger Pessl just writes with broad strokes and clunky rhetoricalevices Her writing is hyperbolic and extreme She seems to pride herself on regurgitating endless references and allusions but I would prefer that instead of The Taste of Ashes describing someone as having the air of a Chateau Marmont bungalow about her she justescribe the Camellia (Ellie, damn person Do some real work MarishaAnd oh how Marisha Pessl loves similes and metaphors She and Augusten Burroughs should get together and have some kind of simiphor off Sample Pessl snippet Charles and his friends looked forward to the hours at her house much in the way New York City s celery thin heiresses and beetroot B picture lotharios looked forward to noserubbing at the Stork Club certain sweaty Saturday nights in 1943 see Forget About El Morocco The Xanadu of the New York Elite the Stork Club 1929 1965 Riser 1981I have two problems with this kind of writing1 Ion t know the way New York City s celery thin heiresses and beetroot B picture lotharios looked forward to noserubbing at the Stork Club certain sweaty Saturday nights in 1943 So this metaphor is completely useless to me Why can t Charles and his friends just look forward to the hours at her house2 The amn parenthetical references They re throughout the entire friends just look forward to the hours at her house2 The amn parenthetical references They re throughout the entire It s probably supposed to help clear up my first problem with this passage but it only serves to remove me from the story in two really stupid ways 1 I stop reading and go look it up or 2 Since I m reading a book about a high school senior who can t possibly know all of the books and references in parentheses I can only assume this is Marisha Pessl being an annoying smartass with this kind of crappy Authorial IntrusionThere s also Visual Aids throughout the book Drawings by the author Really annoying Really stupid Absolutely unnecessaryAt one point there is a blubbery Mercedes If anyone Clever The Highwayman (Victorian Rebels, 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 cliue of eccentrics known as the Bluebloods Onerown. ,

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