10 Jun 2007

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

I was drawn to this book (M. Pessl) by its pretty cover and strange title. It is witty, unusual, clever - but maybe a bit too clever… the many, many references to literature and cinematography were, to me anyway, often too obscure to add anything, and instead I got annoyed (at my own ignorance mostly) and distracted.

However, after I’d decided not to pay too much attention to these references anymore, I did really enjoy the story of the slightly weltfremt Blue, living with her unconventional father, and joining, in true Secret History/Dead Poet’s Society style, the exclusive group of students gathering once a week at a teacher’s home. On the one hand, Blue is far too clever and literate to be real, but she is also a normal, insecure teenager, making her a true character after all. The story twists and turns, and changes pace so quickly that I sometimes had to read back to where I’d missed the sudden turn.

In summary, I do recommend this book (although not for an English literature exam), but only if you’re either very well-read, or are happy to let the references slide past you and just enjoy the story.