Melissa's Reviews > Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
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Oct 09, 09

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Read in October, 2009

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Quotes Melissa Liked

Marisha Pessl
“But most critically, sweet, never try to change the narrative structure of someone else's story, though you will certainly be tempted to, as you watch those poor souls in school, in life, heading unwittingly down dangerous tangents, fatal digressions from which they will unlikely be able to emerge. Resist the temptation. Spend your energies on your story. Reworking it. Making it better.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Mr. Archer being EARTH FRIENDLY was APPARATUS HOSTILE.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Not returning phone calls is the severest form of torture in the civilized world.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“I was aware too how strange adults were, how theirs lives were vaster than they wanted anyone to realize, that they actually stretched on and on like deserts, dry and desolate, with an unpredictable, shifting sea of dunes.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Sometimes it takes more courage not to let yourself see. Sometimes knowledge is damaging - not enlightenment but enleadenment.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Sadly, American teenagers are to a weightless vacuum as seat cushions are to polyurethane foam -”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Due to Jade's fortresslike manner, which, like any well-built castle, made access challenging, girls found her existence not only threatening but flat-out wrong. Although Bartelby Athletic Center featured the latest advertising campaign of Ms. Sturd's three member Benevolent Body-Image Club (laminated Vogue and Maxim covers above captions, “You Can't Have Thighs Like This and Still Walk" and "All Airbrushing"), Jade would only have to swan by, munching on a Snickers to reveal a disturbing truth: You could have thighs like that and still walk. She emphasized what few wanted to accept, that some people did win Trivial Pursuit: The Deity Looks Edition, and there wasn't a thing you could do about it, except come to terms with the fact that you'd only played Trivial Pursuit: John Doe Genes and come away with three pie pieces.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“It’s hard, in America, not to equate ‘happiness’ with ‘things’.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“...I couldn't let go of the thought that it had, in fact, been he, restless and moody Heathcliff. Day after day, he floated through all the Wal-Marts in America, searching for me in a million lonely aisles.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Those around you can have their novellas, sweet, their short stories of cliché and coincidence, occasionally spiced up with tricks of the quirky, the achingly mundane, the grotesque. A few will even cook up Greek tragedy, those born into misery, destined to die in misery. But you, my bride of quietness, you will craft nothing less than epic with your life. Out of all of them, your story will be the one to last.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Well, it doesn't look good. Makes me look like one of those unloved latchkey children they make after-school specials about."
"Don't sell yourself short. You're more Masterpiece Theatre.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“No wonder so many adults long to return to university, to all those deadlines--ahhh, that structure! Scaffolding to which we may cling! Even if it is arbitrary, without it, we're lost, wholly incapable of separating the Romantic from the Victorian in our sad, bewildering lives...”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Today dies a crooked and gluttonus man' - it was true, at least literally; McCullough allegedly weighed three hundred pounds and suffered from scoliosis.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“It was what accidental deaths did to people, made everybody's sea floor irregular and uneven, causing tidal currents to collide, surge upward, thereby resulting in small yet volatile eddies churning at everybody's surface. (In the more dangerous cases, it created a lasting whirlpool in which the strongest swimmers could drown.)”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“May you walk a lighted path. May you fight for truth - your truth, not someone else's - and may you understand, above all things, that you are the most important concept, theory, and philosophy I have ever known.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Some people, every now and then, simply had to have One Too Many, go drifty voiced and slouch mouthed, swimming willfully around in their own sadness as if it were hot springs.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“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.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Smoke was a person with a sense of history. Do you know what I mean?" ...in truth, I DID know what she meant. Da Vinci, Martin Luther King, Jr., Genghis Kahn, Abraham Lincoln, Bette Davis - if you read their definitive biographies, you learned even when they were a month old, cooing in some wobbly crib in the middle of nowhere, they already had something historic about them. The way other kids had baseball, long division, Hot Wheels, and hula hoops, these kids had History and thus tended to be prone to colds, unpopular, sometimes plagued with a physical deformity (Lord Byron's clubfoot, Maugham's severe stutter, for example), which pushed them into exile in their heads. It was there they began to dream of human anatomy, civil rights, conquering Asia, a lost speech and being (within a span of four years) a jezebel, a marked woman, a little fox and an old maid.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Funnily enough, it is the subject one dreads talking about at length one ends up talking about at length, often without the slightest provocation.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“America's greatest revelation was not the atom bomb, not Fundamentalism, not fat farms, not Elvis, not even the quite astute observation that gentlemen prefer blondes, but the great heights to which she has propelled ice cream, " Dad was fond of commenting while standing with the freezer door open and inspecting every flavor of Ben and Jerry's, oblivious to the customers swarming around him, waiting for him to move.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“Dad on Child-rearing: "There's no education superior to travel. Think of The Motorcycle Diaries, or what Montrose St. Millet wrote in Ages of Exploration: 'To be still is to be stupid. To be stupid is to die.' And so we shall live. Every Betsy sitting next to you in a classroom will only know Maple Street on which sits her boxy white house, inside of which whimper her boxy white parents. After your travels, you'll know Maple Street, sure, but also wilderness and ruins, carnivals and the moon. You'll know the man sitting on an apple crate outside a gas station in Cheerless, Texas, who lost his legs in Vietnam, the woman in the tollboth outside Dismal, Delaware, in possession of six children, a husband with black lung but no teeth. When a teacher asks the class to interpret Paradise Lost, no one will be able to grab your coattails, sweet, for you will be flying far, far out in front of them all. For them, you will be a speck somewhere above the horizon. And thus, when you're ultimately set loose upon the world..." He shrugged, his smile lazy as an old dog. "I suspect you'll have no choice but to go down in history.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“For the record, there were no framed pictures of me around our house, and the only class portrait Dad had ever ordered was the one from Sparta Elementary in which I'd sat, knees glued together, in front of a background that looked like Yosemite, sporting pink overalls and a lazy eye. "This is classic," Dad said. "That they shamelessly send me an order form so I can pay $69.95 for prints large and small of a photo in which my daughter looks as if she just suffered a great blow to her head - it just shows you, we are simply strapped to a motorized assembly line moving through this country. We're supposed to pay out, shut up or get tossed in the rejects bin.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl
“I remembered what Dad said once, that some people have all of life's answers worked out the day they're born and there's no use trying to teach them anything new. "They're closed for business even though, somewhat confusingly, their doors open at eleven, Monday through Friday," Dad said. And the trying to change what they think, the attempt to explain, the hope they'll come to see your side of things, it was exhausting, because it never made a dent and afterward you only ached unbearably. It was like being a Prisoner in a Maximum-Security Prison, wanting to know what a Visitor's hand felt like (see Living in Darkness, Cowell, 1967). No matter how desperately you wanted to know, pressing your dumb palm against the glass right where the visitor's hand was pressed on the opposite side, you never would know that feeling, not until they set you free.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics


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