cover image Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl, , read by Emily Janice Card. . Penguin Audio, $39.95 (22pp) ISBN 978-0-14-314209-6

Pessl’s showy (often too showy) debut novel, littered as it is with literary references and obscure citations, would seem to make an unlikely candidate for a successful audiobook. Yet actor and singer Emily Janice Card (a North Carolina native like the author) has a ball with Pessl’s knotty, digressive prose, eating up Pessl’s array of voices, impressions and asides like an ice-cream sundae. Card reads as if she is composing the book as she goes along, with a palpable sense of enjoyment present in almost every line reading. Her girlish voice, immature but knowing, is the perfect sound for Pessl’s protagonist and narrator Blue van Meer, wise beyond her years even as she stumbles through a disastrous final year of high school. Card brings out the best in Pessl’s novel and papers over its weak spots as ably as she can. Simultaneous release with the Penguin paperback (Reviews, May 22, 2006) (May)