Special Topics in Calamity Physics

special calamity physics cover image Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
General Fiction
Penguin Books
Paperback, 528 pages

We really enjoyed this highly unusual debut novel by Marisha Pessl, a vibrant young voice in literary fiction. Cleverly and playfully structured as a college lit course curriculum, Special Topics is a postmodern murder mystery featuring a handsome, intellectually demanding, and emotionally challenged father and his high school age daughter. She is lured by her mercurial, charismatic Film Studies teacher into a specially chosen off-beat clique of students at her new school. Pessl’s story dips, weaves, spins and races toward its climax textured by rich vocabulary, lush descriptive style, and startlingly fresh insight. The narrative is intricately interwoven with literary and film citations and, if you can wink at some of the gimmicks, Special Topics is an exhilarating read