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Skippy Dies: A Novel Paperback – August 30, 2011
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Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2010: Seabrook College is an all-boys Catholic prep school in contemporary Dublin, where the founding Fathers flounder under a new administration obsessed with the school's "brand" and teachers vacillate between fear and apathy when faced with rooms full of texting, hyper-tense, hormone-fueled boys. It's the boys--and one boy in particular--that give this raucous, tender novel its emotional kick. Daniel "Skippy" Juster is a breed apart from his friends, more sensitive than any of them, but never visibly reactive to the pressures that weigh heavily on him. The events that lead to his untimely (though tragicomic) death unfold scene by scene, in a chorus of perfectly executed moments that are powerful enough to make you laugh and weep at once. When you read Skippy Dies, you won't necessarily feel like a teenager again--and in fact, may realize you'd never want to--but you'll certainly appreciate how painful, exhilarating, and confusing it still is to grow up. --Anne Bartholomew --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* 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 heartbreaking, it is inarguably among the most memorable novels of the year to date. --Michael Cart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Skippy Dies is based primarily in Seabrook College, home to day and boarding pupils alike. It fixes in on both the young teenage students and their teachers alike, and their lives away from school. What really struck me was how today's teenagers have no concept of what having a private life means. Camera phones and social networking sites are the norm and any indiscretions can be made widely known in seconds.
The book deals beautifully with the story behind each of the main characters, exploring their past, their family life, what brought them to the here and now and their current emotional state. When you add the girls school next door into the mix the story really takes off.
The title is self explanatory, but all is not what it seems, so my advice is to let Murray take you on this wonderfully touching journey of discovery.
I don't want to give away too much other than to say all the characters are wonderfully portrayed in such fantastic detail. Murray's style of writing is both hilarious and poignant.
This is not one to miss. I read the full, one book edition. It also comes in a really nice 3-volume box set if you fancy breaking it up.
Now, a book about the death of a young boy sounds like a bummer--and Skippy's death is far from the only tragedy depicted--but as in life, the tragedy is balanced with high comedy. The novel is set at Seabrook College, an upscale private preparatory school in Ireland. This, the institution's 140th year, is a time of transition. The Catholic priests who have been in control for more than a century are beginning to take a back-seat to secular influences. (Yes, contemporary scandals in the Catholic Church are touched upon within the plot, but they are not the focus of the story.)
While Skippy is a pivotal character, the novel is an ensemble piece. We meet Skippy's school pals, the older boys who bully them, the teachers and priests that teach them, the girls from the neighboring school, and a smattering of parents and significant others. There's a plot. Many of them, in fact; it's an expansive novel and much happens along the way. But this story is character-driven, and that's where Murray excels. His characters are delicious! Ruprecht, the idiosyncratic genius; Mario, the teenage lothario; Howard "The Coward" Fallon, a teacher searching for identity; and an acting principal you'll love to hate.Read more ›
The centerpiece of the story is Skippy, a teenaged boy attending the Catholic school, and I won't be spoiling anything when I mention that Skippy Dies. The bulk of the book describes the events leading up to his death, with a large cast of characters who seem to corner each possible Catholic schoolboy (nerd, ladies' man, rich kid) and faculty (boring old priest, returning alumnus, hot chick, possible molester) stereotype. This is not to say that these characters are not interesting, and, in some cases, provide some much-needed humor in the midst of what is unquestionably a grim tale. The biggest problem with the story is that at times, the plot gets crushed by its own weight. There is a lot going on, and it does not necessarily all tie together in the end.
I finished this book a few days ago and wanted to let it marinate a bit before writing a review, because I could not decide if this was a modern classic and my initial impression of it being a bit over-done was just from reader fatigue. Ultimately, to me the book was between 3 and 4 stars, and fell to 3 stars for the long and rambling sections that I was hopeful would be tied together better. In the end, they were repetitive and just did not maintain my interest. Without question, Murray is an excellent writer and a deep thinker with a lot to say. In this book, there was just a bit too much of all of it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book;the writing is beautiful. Paul Murray is now one of my favorite authors. His ability to describe feelings, characters and their observations is brilliant. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Shannon
Best book I have read in quite a while. Is very funny and saf at the same time. Similar to other irish writer R oddy DoylePublished 5 months ago by Andrea O'Neill
While the author is clearly a gifted writer, this book is far too long, particularly when the adolescent boys are talking about the universe. Read morePublished 5 months ago by KSay
I read this outrageous book upon its release, and promptly lent my copy only to have it disappear.
Years later, I wanted to re-read it...so I got a second copy. Read more
I had two major problems with this extraordinary novel: it was too long and over-hyped; not that the author can be held culpable on the second... Read more
Love, sex, video games, drugs, magic, merciless teasing, abuse, and science. All the things you might imagine are going on, in an all boys catholic boarding school in Ireland .Published 7 months ago by Bex
Great read. Incredible how he explains that period in a child's life through their eyes. A must read-especially if you have been through Irish boarding schoolPublished 9 months ago by paul hodder