|
Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Skippy Dies: A Novel » User review

AN EXCEPTIONAL COMIC NOVEL --WARM AND SAVAGE AT ONCE

  • Aug 18, 2010
Rating:
+5
About a hundred pages into Skippy Dies, I put it down for the evening and, as I walked away from it, realized I missed it already. I'd grown fond of the book. Surely that's an odd emotion to feel for a comic novel, especially a good one as this one is. Comic novels may be funny, but above all, the best ones (Gulliver's Travels, for instance, or Ulysses) are savage: they take no hostages as they narrate the lives and antics of the characters contained inside them. And that's definitely true of Skippy. As a novel goes, it's decidedly unromantic in its take on the over-the-top denizens of a rundown and undistinguished Catholic boys' school in Dublin. But -an odd emotion to feel-- I realized that after a while, I cared about them, not so much what happened to them as that I wanted to know more about them and see what happened to them next.

Eccentric these characters might be. But they are human. In a less exaggerated and farcical way, all of us at some time in our lives have been where they are now. Which suggests to me how very good a writer Murray is: he has made us want to inhabit a world made up largely of naïve, immature (they give new meaning to the word "immature"!) smelly and sex-crazy fourteen-year-old boys, their female counterparts at the girls' school next door, and the befuddled but in theory more grown up characters who have inherited the daunting task of teaching them anything at all, for, at fourteen, they are virtually unteachable of anything academic.

Skippy Dies isn't short of plot. Something is always happening in it. The book is filled with incident and fireworks. And character. Because ultimately this book is about people. Somehow Murray has made us inhabit again that ghastly world of adolescence when boys first begin to notice girls and though they might still be antagonists, somehow want to know them better and impress them. If this book weren't so warm-hearted, it would be terrifying for Murray has no illusions about being young. Terrible things happen in this book and there is no clean and clear redemption for some of his characters. But though his boys and girls are not sweet characters, there is, behind their missteps and gaucheries, an innocence that redeems them and makes the reader want to love them. And love this marvelous book too.

What did you think of this review?

Helpful
9
Thought-Provoking
9
Fun to Read
9
Well-Organized
9
Post a Comment
September 14, 2010
Another great review! I do enjoy well-written comic novels. :)
 
1
More Skippy Dies: A Novel reviews
review by . July 30, 2010
Neither Hogwarts nor "Catcher in the Rye," this captures the "de-dreamification" of being a boy of fourteen and a teacher at twenty-eight. Murray sets this in a Catholic day & boarding school in Dublin, where he lives. The novel yesterday's been placed on the Booker Prize list, so it'll surely gain attention. It's long-- 660 pages to be divided into three volumes for its official release.       These handsomely watercolored covers add …
review by . December 10, 2010
   Imagine if the Harry Potter books were written for adults, set at an all-boys boarding school in Dublin, and had dirtier jokes and a more serious theme, and you’ll have the phenomenal Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. The titular event takes place in the book’s opening pages when fourteen-year-old Daniel “Skippy” Juster, one of Seabrook College’s punier students, dies on the floor of the local doughnut shop just moments after writing his final message on the …
review by . September 20, 2010
I'm the product of an Irish Catholic boarding school for boys. In September 1968, at the tender age of 11, I left the warm (over-)protective bosom of home and family and became one of the 80 or so boys in the first year class at a Franciscan boarding school, about 25 miles north of Dublin, and 160 miles from home. The experience, particularly the first year, was incredibly brutal. But it was also entirely necessary, and completely transformative. I can trace back almost all of what I consider …
review by . March 04, 2011
posted in Cage
Skippy Dies broke a lot of my rules for literature and still allowed me to love it. I can't stand violence to children in what is, essentially, an entertainment. Really graphic, unhealthy sexual activity is another one that bothers me. Drug abuse is too hard for me to relate to and comes across as an author struggling for some sort of street cred. I'm really square and don't like being manipulated. And I can just picture the editor who leans across the desk to whisper to an aspiring …
review by . August 07, 2010
I had some trouble deciding on the number of stars for this review. Murray is a gifted writer, a wordsmith who can bring characters to life in a few pages, make you care about them as if they were real people, describing their physical characteristics, their character faults, and their secret fears in a way that few writers can. He gets the modern teen-aged boy down with great accuracy, their false bravado, their vicious competition, and their reluctance to let adults know anything about them. He …
About the reviewer
David Keymer ()
Ranked #448
I taught full time in grade school (1 year), high school (8 years) and college (7 years) --first Spanish, then social studies, then history. After I earned my PhD (in history) at Yale, I moved into administration. … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

You
dkeymer36
Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this book

Wiki

It’s no spoiler to acknowledge that Skippy, the main character in Murray’s second novel, does indeed die, since the boy is a goner by page 5 of the prologue. Following his character’s untimely demise, Murray takes the reader back in time to learn more about the sweetly engaging Skippy—a 14-year-old student at a historic Catholic boys’ school in Dublin—and his friends Ruprecht, a near genius who is passionately interested in string theory; Mario, a self-styled lothario; and Dennis, the resident cynic. We also meet the girl with whom Skippy is hopelessly in love, Lori, and his bête noire, Carl, a drug-dealing, psychopathic fellow student who is also in love with Lori. The faculty have their innings, too, especially the history teacher Howard (the Coward) Fallon, who has also fallen in love—he with the alluring substitute teacher Miss McIntyre. And then there is the truly dreadful assistant principal, Greg Costigan. In this darkly comic novel of adolescence (in some cases arrested), we also learn about the unexpected consequences of Skippy’s death, something of contemporary Irish life, and a great deal about the intersections of science and metaphysics and the ineluctable interconnectedness of the past and the present. At 672 pages, this is an extremely ambitious and complex novel, filled with parallels, with sometimes recondite references to Irish folklore, with quantum physics, and with much more. Hilarious, haunting, and ...
view wiki

Details

ISBN-10: 0865479437
ISBN-13: 978-0865479432
Author: Paul Murray
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Polls with this book
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists