Blast from the Past: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
12/17-28/2006–514 pages–fiction
Recommended by Dominique
Borrowed from public library

Wow. That is my thought on this book. Not a bad wow, but just wow. There was so much to pay attention to in this book. I don’t know what books to believe in. Any website Blue mentioned isn’t real, so are the hundreds of books real? The only part of this book I didn’t like was how everything before Hannah’s death seemed dragged out. Like there was so much, what I see as, unimportant detailing about growing relationships, or lack thereof. I was definitely more interested in the last 200-some pages rather than the first 300. Don’t get me wrong. I did like it despite the heavy descriptions and would recommend it…to some people at least. When I started it I was going to write down all the books Blue referenced throughout. That would’ve taken quite a bit of time and energy.

I did like how the chapter titles told you what would happen in the chapter. The book named had the same plot as the chapter. Like the chapter Pygmalion was Blue’s transformation, like Eliza Doolittle’s. Granted I didn’t check accuracy of title and chapter for EVERY one, but I assumed.

I must also mention, about what cited sources were real and which fiction, I think it made the story more realistic/believable if there were lots of sources you’d heard of and know to exist. Then the odd one out wasn’t really seemingly false because you don’t recognize it’s fake right away.

“Always live your life with you biography in mind. Naturally, it won’t be published unless you have a Magnificent Reason, but at the very least you’ll be living grandly.” (p48)

“Americans need to master lingual before they attempt bilingual.” (p159)

“Juliet and Romeo be damned, you can’t be in love until you’ve flossed your teeth next to the person at least 300 times.” (p180)

“He said you couldn’t pretend the terrible things in life didn’t happen. You can’t clean it up. You keep all the refuse and the scars. It’s how you learn. And try to make improvements.” (p186)

“Never presume to know what a person is, was, or will be capable of…” (p249)
*Obviously Blue should’ve taken her father into question as well as everyone else

“What are fantasies? What we use to pillow ourselves against the world.” (p466)


Blast from the Past is a weekly post I write that focuses on a book I read long before I ever had a blog about books. While I didn’t “book blog” until a couple of years ago, I’ve kept a reading journal of sorts for about 6 years. Blast from the Past is essentially just my way of digitalizing my old book journals–and reminding me what I thought of books long since read. I think it will be a fun way to look at how my reading selections have changed and what I like most in the books I read.


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