We couldn't agree more with Meghan O'Rourke's look at Special Topics in Calamity Physics's jaw-droppingly undeserved berth in the New York Times Top 10 Books of the Year list, except that we liked it even less than she did.
But at the risk of sounding Scrooge-like, I was surprised to discover, on the New York Times' influential "10 Best Books of the Year" (to appear in the paper's print edition this Sunday), a book I had not imagined would make the cut: 27-year-old Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I read the book over the summer—before its publication—and admired its vigorous prose, yet finally was exhausted by it. For all its verve, the novel gets tripped up by lack of control, coy posturing, and preciousness. A promising debut? Probably. One of the five best fiction books of the year? Hmm, not so much.
As we look around the mountains of books that arrived here in the course of the last year, we're happy to send a few over to the Times, since they're obviously missing something.