I already told you why I hate novels. I read genre fiction occasionally, but even going slightly outside the cautionary rules set down by Gabe from Penny Arcade have burned me—the latest Alastair Reynolds book didn’t have a spaceship on the cover and it was miserable.
A few of my current writing projects are short stories, so I feel it’s good for me to read more contemporary fiction, no matter how much I might whine about it.
To that end, I picked up a copy of a capital-L “Literature” novel: Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I bought this book for three reasons:
- It was heavily discounted at Barnes & Noble.
- It has the word “physics” in the title.
- The back cover says the book has “a confluence of mysteries”.
I figured that would be genre enough, right? But then I saw a blurb from Jonathan Franzen and realized that this novel was too “serious” to fulfill any of my genre desires. I bought the book anyway.
I’m about to start reading Calamity Physics. Since it’s an important first novel and since I get the feeling that this is going to turn into a precocious girl’s coming-of-age story, here are my predictions on what’s going to happen:
- The girl will have a bad relationship with her mother and an unrealistic idea of her father.
- The girl will get raped by one of her teachers.
- The girl will receive unwanted lesbian advances from one of her classmates.
- No actual physics will be important.
My predictions are grossly unfair and reductive, of course. But I don’t have high hopes for anything that’s supposed to be serious literature. Even if I’m currently pretending that I’m capable of writing it.