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Marisha Pessl

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Deborah Lopez

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Gawker couldn’t decide what kind of “hot” author Marisha Pessl was this summer (book hot? TV hot?) and managed to miss the fact that her novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, may be the best debut of 2006. In a dense, allusive but racing narrative that truly deserves the much-abused adjective Nabokovian, precocious Blue Van Meer puzzles over the mysterious death of a charismatic teacher in the North Carolina town where she and her itinerant-professor father have settled in for the year. You may have to read it twice to figure out exactly what happened, and you’ll want to—even if it means forgiving some of the 27-year-old’s more precious affectations (runaway metaphors, drawings, book citations to demonstrate how learned Blue is). Pessl is sure to add spice to the breathless story in her live reading, channeling her bookish teen narrator in the appropriate tweedy Mercantile Library. Decide for yourself her level of hotness, or better yet, pay attention to her brilliant story.


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