Monday, July 23, 2007

Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl

I'm not keen on stories that "just stop" and leave the reader to puzzle out what may or may not have been going on all along, so I found the ending of this extravagantly praised book unsatisfactory. Before then, however, I was thoroughly engrossed in the entirely alien (to me) world of the narrator's final year of American High School. Our heroine has led a bizarre life up to the start of the events described, and the year we spend with her fits right in to that pattern. We meet a large cast of highly obnoxious school students, a deeply troubled and troubling teacher and the narrator's peculiar father. Everyone seems to be hiding large parts of themselves and not much of what they say seems to be true. The weird incidents pile up and there is at least one murder but, if the author herself knows what's really been going on, she declines to share that knowledge with the reader. Fascinating and frustrating in equal parts but I'm glad I read it all the same.


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