Special Topics in Calamity Physics
I found myself alternately fascinated and infuriated while reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I finished it last night and on balance have decided to go with infuriated.
Initially this story of a mysterious death at a posh private school, and the eccentric teenager Blue who finds the official explanation unconvincing, drew me in by way of comparisons with Donna Tartt’s, The Secret History. But trust me, Special Topics is no modern classic on that level. What it is is a mass market crime novel with serious delusions of grandeur and far too many “cute” little gimmicks sprinkling its 514 exhausting pages. Yep- this book took far too long to freakin’ finish, given it’s really a pretty inconsequential offering- pretentious yet empty, and stuffed with more padding than an 80’s power suit. And with that simile I realise that I have been fatally infected with the author’s love of a self -conscious turn of phrase, studded as they are through the text like- no. I’ll stop there.
Thanks, Marisha. Thanks a bunch. You didn’t bore me with your “Special Topics”, but you did get on my nerves a whole lot. Just how did you manage to write something so compelling and yet so dull? It’s an art alright.