Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gave Up: "Special Topics in Calamity Physics" by Marisha Pessl.

Gave Up: Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, 2006, audio download.

The blurb on Overdrive says, "Pessl's dazzling debut sparked raves from critics and heralded the arrival of a vibrant new voice in American fiction." Well, sure, if you like books that go on forever and nothing much happens. (Another reminder of the Del Amitri tune.)

College student, Blue, gets call from high school classmate that sparks Blue to write about her senior year in high school. Blue styles the work much like an essay by including notes on sources and referenced photos.  Blue was seven-years-old when she and her Professor father started an itinerant lifestyle and would move every semester as Professor Dad took a new visiting job at another mid- to lower-tier university. They spent ten years traveling across the country with didactic dad delivering lectures.

Blue would rarely fit in at each new school and her big brains and intelligence were often taken advantage of by fellow students. Professor Dad would have new girlfriends every 4-8 weeks. On the approach of Blue's senior year Professor Dad announces he has taken a year-long job in North Carolina and that Blue can spend a full school year in one location in preparation for her expected admission to Harvard.

Through the benevolence of  a secretive film studies teacher Blue makes friends with the in-crowd. Secretive Film Studies Teacher hosts those students each Sunday at dinnertime. Blue hangs out with a couple other girls. Goes with girls to a bar that serves to underage people. Those girls pick up random dudes for sex in the women's restroom. Bizarre behavior. Blue then goes with other two girls to stake-out Secretive Film Studies Teacher who picks up old men at a remote Perkins/Big Boy/Shoney's/Whatever takes them back to a No Tell Motel, kicks the guy out after sex, and spends the night alone.

Nothing much happens. I quit about halfway through.  Lots of teenage worries: studies, fitting in at school, unrequited lust, discomfort, why do adults act that way?, so on, so forth. The only thing that happens was about halfway through when a drunk falls into a pool and drowns.

EDIT: I gotta say this was disappointing because Pessl's Night Film was so damn good. I'll try her new stuff out because of Night Film.

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