Saturday, December 23, 2006


"Special Topics in Calamity Physics"

Once in great while I stumble across a book that just grabs me and holds on for a long time. I usually realize quite quickly that I've found something outstanding. Some notable examples include: "It's All Right Now" by Charles Chadwick; "Any Human Heart" by William Boyd; and "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffeneger. Now, even before I'm through reading it, I've found another one...

I off-handedly picked up this book from the library's New Releases shelf mostly because the title was so unusual. The blurb didn't offer much to go by: a bright teenager and her rambling father move to a small town in North Carolina where she becomes involved with an offbeat circle of friends; leading eventually to a murder. Still, I brought it home along with a few others and it sat at the bottom of my book pile for three weeks while I read several other books.

This morning I finally picked it up and started reading. Suddenly it's seven in the evening and I don't know where the day has gone. She is such a captivating writer; I find myself drawn into so many of her descriptions that I have to stop to re-read them, just to appreciate the skillful combinations of words that evoke so many images. I'm only halfway through and I'm hoping it won't end. There's this, for example, from Page 378:

...a woman with a sizable crooked nose, and all the other features crowded around it as if trying to keep warm on her arctic white face... Sergeant Detective Fayonette Harper narrowed her eyes. With her salt-white skin and bristly lava hair, she was a harsh person to take in at close range; it was a swipe, whack, kick in the teeth no matter how many times you looked at her. She had broad doorknobbish shoulders and a way of always moving her torso at the same time as her head as if she had a stiff neck.

"Special Topics in Calamity Physics" is the first novel by Marisha Pessl, from Asheville, North Carolina. She's developed a cool website for the book. An astoundingly good writer; I am eagerly awaiting her next work.

Let's hope she'll google herself and drop in, like that other author you mentioned once.

Merry Christmas, Guanaco.
This time, since it was so impressive, after I finish the book, I'll probably send her a comment through her website.

Merry Christmas to you, Pink Fluffy Slippers!
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