Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Of Sheepish Crime & Special Calamity

So there, I've finished reading that special book, the *first* book of the year now, and oh me oh my was it a fantastic read, I just loved it!! Every. Single. Page. "Special Topics In Calamity Physics" by Marisha Pessl is officially on my favourite-books list now - although, admittedly, I found the ending rather shortened and anticlimactic, a whole bunch of questions unanswered. I suppose the "Final Exam" part was a way to handle those unanswered issues, and although gimmicky, perhaps not really what I'd have liked as a perfect finishing touch to what must be concidered a tremendously arduous labour of love for words and writing.

If you don't love words, expressions, wordplays, puns and literature you won't enjoy this book. At all. Since it's absolutely brilliantly brimming with those. I found myself again and again smiling as well as somewhat silently giggling while reading it on the train, sometimes even laughing (very silently indeed). All the wordly nerdiness, the constant references to books and treatises, the witty parables, not to mention the naming of the chapters after books (and movies) - of course I especially adored just that... And oh, those delightful visual aids.

If I *had to* resemble it to another book I could say it somewhat reminds me of Donna Tartt's lovely book "The Secret History", though more than a cut above in ingeniousness.

And even if I, as I wrote above, didn't fully embrace the ending, at least it definitely lingers on, and has me thinking, pondering, broodering over what really happen, what was the reason for Film Studies teacher Hannah Schneider's death? And is Blue really prepared to take on, by her very self, the world after her high school graduation? Did she really kiss like a tuna? What happened to the remains of all the poor pinned butterflies? And what about... The list of minor as well as major questions unanswered by the time one reaches page 668 seems slightly endless. Ah, perhaps that actually is a part of the unquestionable charm of this simply irresistable, enchanting love of a book.

I'll round this review off with a far from equally good book, in fact a book I read great reviews on last summer, had to have, but which never really caught me. After a seemingly endless time of trying to get past page 80 - imagine I actually forced myself to get that far into the book... - I decided enough was enough. I don't like this book, it's not very well written, in fact it's rather boring, a pity since the plot-inventiveness is really fresh; sheep flock solving a murder.

But if it might be difficult to distinguish 19 different human characters, imagine to tell 19 sheep apart... 19 sheep that the author frankly hasn't done a very good job in giving distinct personalities or features to. I was constantly annoyed for having to return to the cast of characters since I just couldn't distinguish one sheep from another. Thus the murder of the shepherd and its solving by sheep became unengaging and secondary.

The book I highly not-recommend to read is the debute novel "Glennkill - Ein Schafskrimi" (English translation being "Three Bags Full") by German Leoni Swann.

Since *Calamity* also is a first novel, the authors are both females and of the same age, I can't help but thinking that these books are not only written geographically a world apart, but very much apart on so many levels...

5 comments:

Rhea said...

I'm always looking for good books to read, so I'll have to check these out!

heidikins said...

Ooooh! Adding to my "To Read" list immediately.

xox

Pia K said...

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Rhea! I hope you'll like the book(s):)

I think you'll like that book a whole lot, heidikins, jampacked with witty wordiness:)

Oogie McGuire said...

Just a quick note. As a shepherd I loved 3 Bags Full. I guess you have to care for sheep to understand the differences but as a shepherd it was wonderful and I had no problems keeping the sheep apart. In fact I see many of the characters in my own flock.

I keep searching for the sequel, after all she left it with the flock going to Europe! I want to know what Miss Maple and Mopple the Whale and Othello do in Europe, get into trouble I am sure. I keep searching but no info yet....

Pia K said...

hi there, oogie mcguire, so nice to hear your input on the matter! i did love the idea of the book, just not the writing. ah taste differ:)

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