Special topics in calamity physics

Introduction

Part 1

Chapter #1: OTHELLO, William Shakespeare

Chapter #2: A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, James Joyce

Chapter #3: WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Emily Brontë

Chapter #4: THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Chapter #5: THE WOMAN IN WHITE, Wilkie Collins

Chapter #6: BRAVE NEW WORLD, Aldous Huxley

Chapter #7: LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Chapter #8: MADAME BOVARY, Gustave Flaubert

Chapter #9: PYGMALION, George Bernard Shaw

Chapter #10: THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES, Agatha Christie

Part 2

Chapter #11: MOBY-DICK, Herman Melville

Chapter #12: A MOVEABLE FEAST, Ernest Hemingway

Chapter #13: WOMEN IN LOVE, D. H. Lawrence

Chapter #14: "THE HOUSEBREAKER OF SHADY HILL," John Cheever

Chapter #15: SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, Tennessee Williams

Chapter #16: LAUGHTER IN THE DARK, Vladimir Nabokov

Chapter #17: THE SLEEPING BEAUTY AND OTHER FAIRY TALES, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

Chapter #18: A ROOM WITH A VIEW, E. M. Forster

Part 3

Chapter #19: HOWL AND OTHER POEMS, Allen Ginsberg

Chapter #20: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, William Shakespeare

Chapter #21: DELIVERANCE, James Dickey

Chapter #22: HEART OF DARKNESS, Joseph Conrad

Chapter #23: ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, Ken Kesey

Chapter #24: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, Gabriel García Márquez

Chapter #25: BLEAK HOUSE, Charles Dickens

Chapter #26: THE BIG SLEEP, Raymond Chandler

Chapter #27: JUSTINE, Marquis de Sade

Chapter #28: QUER PASTICCIACCIO BRUTTO DE VIA MERULANA, Carlo Emilio Gadda

Chapter #29: THINGS FALL APART, Chinua Achebe

Chapter #30: THE NOCTURNAL CONSPIRACY, Smoke Wyannoch Harvey

Chapter #31: CHE GUEVARA TALKS TO YOUNG PEOPLE, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna

Chapter #32: "GOOD COUNTRY PEOPLE," Flannery O'Connor

Chapter #33: THE TRIAL, Franz Kafka

Chapter #34: PARADISE LOST, John Milton

Chapter #35: THE SECRET GARDEN, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter #36: METAMORPHOSES, Ovid

Final Exam

Acknowledgments

SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS

a novel...

Blue van Meer: a brainy, deadpan, and preternaturally erudite girl who, after traveling from one remote academic outpost to another with her professor father (see "Gareth van Meer"), has a head crammed full of literary, philosophical, and scientific knowledge. (She is also a film buff and can recite pi out to sixty-five decimal places.) When she is sixteen, due to certain nuclear events, her previously dull life is forever transformed.

The Flying Demoiselle: an archaic means of hanging someone, popular in the American South between 1829-1860. It is also, in all likelihood, how Hannah Schneider died.

Gareth Van Meer: a handsome yet maddening man prone to aphorisms, meteoric affairs, (see "June bugs"), and high-end bourbon.

June bugs: single women aged 35-45 who, for reasons unclear to Blue, cling to her father like lint balls to wool pants.

Lion sex: something that happens in Room 222 of the Dynasty Motel.

Valerio: a clue.

MARISHA PESSI

grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and now lives in New York City. This is her first novel.

www.marishapessl.com

Jacket design: Paul Buckley Back jacket photograph © Adalberto Rios Szalay/ Sexto Sol/Getty Images

VIKING

A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 375 Hudson Street, New York. N.Y. 10014 www.penguin.com

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VIKING

VIKING Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R oRL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pry Ltd) Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pry) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

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First published in 2006 by Viking Penguin, a