Contemporary U.S. Literature

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

August 1, 2017

At first I was enchanted with this novel, but then I decided it’s bloated. Pessl is definitely a talented writer, and the novel eventually finds a plot, but it took me too long to get there. The narrator, Blue, is pre(co)cious, and I almost felt sorry for her when she discovers at the very end of the story that she’s been hoodwinked by the person she most admires. The book itself is structured pre(co)ciously into chapters with titles of “great works” of literature, and the reader is left to discover the connections between the events of the chapter and the chapter title (e.g. there are chapters titled “Bleak House” and “Deliverance” and “Things Fall Apart”). But the connections between title and chapter events are frequently so tenuous that even someone like me–who’s read most of the books alluded to–fails to discover them.

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