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Extended Audio Sample Special Topics in Calamity Physics Audiobook, by Marisha Pessl Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (20,158 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marisha Pessl Narrator: Emily Janice Card Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2007 ISBN: 9781429586368
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The mesmerizing New York Times bestseller by the author of Night Film

Marisha Pessl’s dazzling debut sparked raves from critics and heralded the arrival of a vibrant new voice in American fiction. At the center of Special Topics in Calamity Physics is clever, deadpan Blue van Meer, who has a head full of literary, philosophical, scientific, and cinematic knowledge. But she could use some friends. Upon entering the elite St. Gallway School, she finds some—a clique of eccentrics known as the Bluebloods. One drowning and one hanging later, Blue finds herself puzzling out a byzantine murder mystery. Nabokov meets Donna Tartt (then invites the rest of the Western Canon to the party) in this novel—with visual aids drawn by the author—that has won over readers of all ages.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The joys of this shrewdly playful narrative lie not only in the high-low darts and dives of Pessl’s tricky plotting, but in her prose, which floats and runs as if by instinct, unpremeditated and unerring…This skylarking book will leave readers salivating for more.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Hip, ambitious, and imaginative…It’s always refreshing to find a writer who takes such joy in the magical tricks words can perform.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Blue’s cross-referencing mania can be surprisingly enjoyable, because Pessl is a vivacious writer who’s figured out how to be brainy without being pedantic.”

    Washington Post

  • “Witty and exuberant…Pessl’s pyrotechnics place her alongside young, eclectic talents like Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Zadie Smith.”

    Vogue

  • “A frisky, smarty-pants debut…An escapist extravaganza packed with literary and pop culture allusions, mischievous characterizations, erotic intrigue, murders, and unstoppable narrative energy.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Extravagant, witty, and dark, Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a sprawling campus novel, an intricate murder mystery, a coming-of-age tale, and a sly satire of intellectualism and academia. Her prose is…vivid, erupting in a freefall of wordplay, wisecracks, encyclopedia tidbits, and a barrage of cultural references…Her enthusiasm for language is a delight.”

    Miami Herald

  • “There is a voice here to like, part Huck Finn, part Holden Caulfield, part Fran Leibowitz, and part Nora Ephron.”

    Harper’s

  • “A real novel, one of substance and breadth, with an arresting story and that rarest of delights, a great ending.”

    Salon

  • “Gripping and dark, funny and poignant.”

    USA Today

  • “Beneath the foam of this exuberant debut is a dark, strong drink.”

    Jonathan Franzen, National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections and Freedom

  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics made me stay up all night reading; in the morning it seemed like one of those parties where everyone is too cool for you but you desperately want to know them anyway. It reminded me of my lost, bad-girl days. I loved this book.”

    Audrey Niffenegger, New York Times bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry

  • A 2006 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2007 PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award Nominee
  • One of the 2006 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Gilpatrick | 2/11/2014

    " So far, one of the best contemporary novels I have read. She is a master of the English language...pretty impressive, given her age. The only thing I somewhat dislike is her laborious use of metaphor. Other than that, brilliant (so far). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary Bruce | 2/2/2014

    " Great story. If you haven't read it you should. Just wondering when she will publish her next book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindsey (RiverPlate / addicted2whimsy) | 1/29/2014

    " I loved this book. The writing style is imaginative, with the main character living her life through other books. A quick read, I was disappointed when it was finished. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Briylee Camp | 1/26/2014

    " Good, though not terribly weighty. Also quite long. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mju | 1/23/2014

    " Brilliant structure, so many cultural references! Really well thought out so far. Only on chapter 4 though, so I'll hold off a bit on judging the story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cheryl | 1/16/2014

    " Read this book a while ago - remembering that I really enjoyed the book. Great writing and a very clever story line. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aya | 1/14/2014

    " Waaay too roundabout way of getting to the point. Hyper-stylized to the point of being boring - many parts were overly drawn out without providing a satisfying "reward". Plowed through it just to get to the end and was more than mildly disappointed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 1/6/2014

    " Made me remember what I liked about my English major. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darcy | 1/3/2014

    " I listened to this on tape and really enjoyed the book and the reader "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jane Effina | 12/25/2013

    " Reading this book gave me a headache and I had to resort to speed reading to skim through the rest of the content because I am one who likes to complete a book whether I liked it or not. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Malia Illing Hatley | 12/16/2013

    " The BEST book I have read in the past 10 years "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrea Reads | 12/10/2013

    " I thought "wow". And then my mind and I were speechless. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Josh Ang | 9/7/2013

    " I felt it was a bit overrated, and the chapter titles slightly too smarty-pants for its own good. I'd sooner recommend Donna Tartt's 'The Secret History' as the Real McCoy instead. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kellynj | 8/8/2013

    " Author had an interesting style of referencing other books. It was very long and the payoff wasn't there for me (no spoiler). "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Therese | 7/18/2013

    " One of the very few books, I started and put down after less than a chapter - too hard to follow and with characters that weren't developed well, no reason to see what happened to them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Missy Painter | 2/12/2013

    " I want to be Blue van Meer. This book leaves you trying to figure out the characters long after you've put it down. A fast-paced mystery with an open-ended conclusion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Courtney | 12/17/2012

    " So far it is interesting and funny in a quirky way. I am waiting for something big to happen. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caity McCullough | 7/21/2012

    " Its definitely a different kind of read, but I am loving it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nieke | 5/9/2012

    " Took me about 250 (out of 600) pages to really get into this book, but then I couldn't stop reading anymore! The last part is refreshing, not too trivial and leaves room for your imagination! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristina | 4/28/2012

    " At first off-put by the never-ending highbrow references, but by the end, the neurotic protagonist won my heart and admiration. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sherry | 4/8/2012

    " Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well written, thoughtful, and hard to put down. Especially enjoyed the play on academic references. A very satisfying read. Looking forward to her next effort. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel Watkins | 2/15/2012

    " Surprising narrative style which reminded me a little of GOON SQUAD. Many surprises at the end. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tamela | 12/31/2011

    " Completely pretentious. In the vernacular of my junior high days, the author is "trying to act hot" but only manages to annoy the reader with her endless cultural and literacy references. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellie/Anton | 6/4/2011

    " I found this book to be very uneven. Parts of it were absorbing, and parts of it were examples of Author Trying Too Hard. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danielle | 5/11/2011

    " would have to be one of thee best books i have ever read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 4/27/2011

    " Absolutely fascinating. I was constantly intrigued and surprised. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katrina | 4/26/2011

    " Can't put my finger on what I loved so much. Very memorable characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kitzyl | 4/25/2011

    " Like a spin-off of Donna Tartt's The Secret History. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sally | 4/21/2011

    " It was hard for me to get through because it mentioned many books, authors, and events that I don't know. But I really liked the book and the ending came as quite a surprise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorie | 4/16/2011

    " Loved this book. The ending will throw you for a loop! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah | 4/15/2011

    " I loved this book. It took some concentration to read it, as it's full of (fictional) literary allusions, but the characters and plot are worth it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aech | 4/11/2011

    " Such a quirky and entertaining read. What makes this books so enjoyable are the plentiful references to other works, most of them being non-existent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Louise | 4/11/2011

    " I loved this book. I read it on a trip to London and remember thinking that the author was amazing. So dense and yet easy and enjoyable to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sherry | 4/7/2011

    " Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well written, thoughtful, and hard to put down. Especially enjoyed the play on academic references. A very satisfying read. Looking forward to her next effort. "

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About the Author
Author Marisha PesslMarisha Pessl’s bestselling debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize (now the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize), and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. Pessl grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and currently resides in New York City.
About the Narrator

Emily Janice Card (a.k.a. Emily Rankin) is an actor, writer, and singer from North Carolina, now residing in Los Angeles. In addition to being a narrator, she has directed numerous audiobooks, including the 2007 Audie and Earphones Award winner Hubris, Legacy of Ashes by Pulitzer Prize winner Tim Weiner, and Them by Nathan McCall. Her own audiobook narration has won her four Earphones Awards.