December 24, 2006
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New season

by Marisha Pessl

I had picked up a new novel recently, but we weren't hitting it off very well. No major incompatibilities, no fights and arguments, no bitter snubs, but no sudden burst of affection. So, this morning I reached for the light, reached for the book, put it back down, and grabbed the next book on the stack: Marisha Pessl's Special Topics In Calamity Physics .

Oh my, Pessl can write.

Specifically, she's got a real knack for tackling a core problem in getting started: the characters know what's going on, and the reader doesn't. It's tempting to have the characters explain too much. It's tempting to just let the read be confused. Pessl does a terrific job of giving you all the information you need, while the characters pretend they aren't cutting you any slack at all.

It began with simple sleeplessness. It had been almost a year since I'd found Hannah dead, and I thought I'd managed to erase all traces of that night within myself.

Hannah? Who's Hannah?

We'll get to that later. Meantime, we sure have plenty of narrative springs being nicely wound, while we're looking the other way and having a good time.