Tag Archives: marisha pessl

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night Film by Marisha Pessl: When the daughter of famously reclusive director Stanislas Cordova turns up dead of an apparent suicide, journalist Scott McGrath finds himself determined to learn the truth. On the way he picks up two unlikely companions, meets a host of strange folks, encounters black magic and hallucinations, and uncovers a large number of strange coincidences. The mystery and suspense are thick the whole way through. Is Ashley Cordova leading him somewhere from beyond the grave? Is Stanislas Cordova a bigger monster than anything that appeared in his horror films? What happened to the actors he worked with? Why is there such a wall of secrecy around the man? Pessl’s gift is writing with such realism that you want to check IMdb.com for Cordova’s name just to reassure yourself that he doesn’t really exist, that this really is fiction. The plot is masterly woven, and though certain parts of the resolution are left to the reader to decide, this feels deliberate rather than lazy. I’ve complained in the past about “open-ended” books that feel like the last chapter was somehow left off, but the ending here is both open and satisfying. I personally prefer the more fantastic explanation offered, but either way this is the sort of story you want all your friends to read so you can share your theories. Truly un-put-downable. I hope Pessl is already working on her next novel.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl: Blue van Meer and her somewhat eccentric dad live a nomadic life as he jumps between visiting professorships all over the country. Our story takes place during Blue’s senior year of high school in North Carolina, when the two actually stay in one place for an entire year. She meets a collection of unusual characters, most notably Hannah Schneider, a film studies teacher at the high school with a somewhat mysterious past. The most memorable and enchanting part of this book is the writing style. Blue’s lively narration is rife with intellectual asides, all backed up with MLA-style citations. I kept wondering how many of the references were real. So convinced was I of the legitimacy of the sources that I was rather surprised to discover that the Night Watchmen don’t actually exist. I found the plot and the unique storytelling methods delightful. And for the record, I think Blue is 100% correct. (Those who have read the book will know what I mean.)

I listened to this on audiobook. Though the reader (Emily Janice Card) was fantastic, the “visual aids” (illustrations) and other textual ornamentation would have been a nice addition. I picked up a hardcover copy at the library, so I was able to see what I was missing. Card was one of the best female readers I’ve ever heard; the story would have simply been better to experience as intended.

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