Thursday, May 31, 2007

Special Topics in Calamity Physics (by Marisha Pessl)

Here are my notes again. Easier than writing a book review!

Stays w/you--ending is haunting.
At first seems overly mannered but I think it may be deliberate choice-says a lot about Blue (narrator). Will see w/Pessl's next book.
Likeable protagonist (though Amazon reviewers disagree)
Hard to put down once it gets going (ending is better than beginning)
Some chapter titles have more resonance than others (and not just the books one has read vs. the ones one has not)
Reserve judgement on author herself but suspect she's more Michael Chabon than Dave Eggers (aka the real deal). Could be wrong though.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Nichole said...

I don't really agree with you about the "likable protagonist," but I think you're right that the writing style says a lot about Blue. I nearly quit reading "Calamity Physics" after the first couple of chapters, but then I got sucked in and couldn't stop. In the end, I didn't really know what to think. The book has stuck with me, though.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous elasticwaist said...

Whoa! Are you saying that Michael Chabon isn't the real deal?

8:18 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

No, I'm saying the opposite, actually! She is more Michael Chabon aka "the real deal." See, I should have turned my notes into a more carefully crafted entry. I love Michael Chabon. I think Dave Eggers is a little precious. (But a writer friend of mine says I should give his second book a chance.)

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually really liked the narrator/protagonist. She was the only likable person in the whole damn book, pretty much. At first the writing style really bugged me, it seemed so mannered and calculated to get a "ooo, isn't she smart and clever?" reaction that it almost read like a really pretentious blog. But in the end I decided that it was meant to reveal more of Blue than Blue meant to reveal.

But I didn't like the ending. Well, I liked the reveal of what Blue ended up thinking happened with the teacher and her father. It was how Blue's life was at the end that I found unbelievable. And I think having the father leave is more dramatic but out of character of what we knew of him.

By the end, did you think Blue's mother committed suicide or was run off the road by the group rather than just a simple car accident?

Shae (slickery)

11:30 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

I agree that Blue's life at the end seems unbelievable. I was so traumatized on her behalf at the end and I was like, "And then she... went on a road trip with her boyfriend and went to Harvard and was all well-adjusted? The hell?"

Maybe we're meant to think she killed herself, but I actually don't think she did. It didn't occur to me that it might have been murder but that's an interesting theory!! I was gonna go with accident, but your idea is probably better.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

I really liked this book overall. at first i thought all the pop culture references were a bit prententious also but then i really started to enjoy them. The ending was unexpected and left me feeling unsettled but i agree with the previous comment the book has stuck with me. In fact, i recently purchased an autographed copy of the paperback edition. unfortunately i missed Pessl speaking so I didn't get to hear her "take" on Blue and the book. I think her second book will reveal a lot both about her longevity and her writing style.

8:07 PM  
Blogger jannette said...

Hi again, I just put up my own post on this book, so I have to chime in, even if I am six months late.

The first half struck me as more believable-- those super-intense but really fraught friendships/rivalries that happen at that age, and how they sort of push everything else to the side.

The second half was... Why did we need so much first half? They could have almost been two different books, except that Pessl apparently needed somewhere to plant a bunch of clues leading up to the big surprises at the end.

7:12 PM  

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