Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Skippy Dies: A Novel Paperback – August 30, 2011
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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
The story revolves around Daniel 'Skippy' Juster - a quiet, misunderstood 14 year old boy - who dies during a doughnut eating contest. The reader is then given the story preceding the tragedy, as well as the aftermath it brings about. In a world of decreasing morals, particularly among adolescents, teachers are quick to notice there is something different, something special about this boy. And a chance encounter with a student from St Brigid's, the girls' school next door, has left Skippy in love.
Also central to the plot is Howard 'The Coward' Fallon. The 28 year old History teacher has found himself - a decade older - right back where he started, suffering through days at Seabrook College. And as the nickname would suggest, there is a history that continues to haunt him. Howard is desperate for a purpose, "to keep days from just piling up on top of each other," but his life and his marriage are quickly unraveling. To complicate things, he is falling for the beautiful Miss MacIntyre, a substitute teacher.
Murray does a remarkable job of transporting the reader to his world with some of the most vivid imagery I have found in modern literature. "Above, a blood-red sun flares through the clouds, like a last live coal uncovered among the cinderwork of the dying seasons." How can one not be captivated?
'Skippy Dies' is a poignant look at the motivations that drive our actions, what it means to be happy, the complications of emotions, and the power we all have in our own small way to truly make a difference. It is the most powerful and emotional book I have read since Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay."
What Mr. Murray has created is a gift that I will cherish for a long time to come. He is a writer to watch, and I can't wait to see what he gives us next.
The story takes place in the present at a small private school, Seabrook Academy, on the outskirts of Dublin. The school is run by the Paraclete Fathers, a dying community of missionary and teaching priests. As there are only a handful of aging and ailing priests left, the school is gradually being taken over by an ambitious lay administrator. The story revolves around a dozen students and an equal number of faculty and old boys. There are also two girls who get into the act, students at St. Bridgits, the sister academy which is tantalizingly close (just across a courtyard from the boys' dorm) but light years away.
Murray's humor is everywhere. It's a kind of Bob and Ray humor that builds up comic tension in you but seldom lets you laugh out loud to relieve it. What's humorous here is half situational and half in the quirky characters you come to care about. Yet neither the situations nor the characters seem exaggerated. In spite of the humor, this book is dead serious. It's not alternately serious and funny; it's serious throughout, and its humor stems from the awfulness that creeps over you as the author reels you in. The book is upsetting and infuriating: you want to leap into the school and get involved yourself.
The most striking feature of Murray's writing is the continual invention. The book is forever steering you off in a direction that you never saw coming, but only a few pages later you know it was simply inevitable. I'm not sure quite how the author pulls this off, but it happens again and again. For example, the book comes to a perfectly satisfying conclusion about halfway through, but there are still all those pages to go. And a hundred pages later you understand that the seemingly satisfying conclusion of the midpoint simply wouldn't have been up to the standard of this gifted writer.
Toward the very end, Murray introduces the story of D Company of Dublin's Royal Fusiliers who fought in the First World War. Ireland was not directly involved in the war, but the Brits recruited there and raised a number of companies of volunteers. D Company was made up largely of Rugby players from the club system; they were joining in groups -- sometimes entire teams -- eager for adventure. The company was called the Dublin Pals. Though they expected to serve on the Western Front, they were shipped off to Gallipoli with less than two weeks of training, and there they were massacred along with the Australians and New Zealanders in one of Churchill's worst ever miscalculations. The few who came home arrived in the middle of the Risings, and instead of treating them as heroes the Irish thought them traitors. After all, they'd fought in the service of Britain. It's an upsetting story by itself; woven as it is into Skippy Dies it becomes something else entirely.
I was intrigued enough about Paul Murray to track down and read his first book, An Evening of Long Goodbyes. That one was less obviously brilliant. It was amusing but only modestly engaging. . . until the very end. When I closed the book I concluded that I wasn't merely engaged but captivated. Again, I'm not sure how Murray had managed to get to me, but he did.
I chanced upon an interview with Paul Murray published shortly after An Evening of Long Goodbyes was nominated for the Whitbread Prize, and it gave something of hint about his magic. He said that Joyce and Beckett were his first author/heroes, but that Irish writers who came after them were averse to taking risks. And he continued:
"By 'risks' here, I think I mean humor. What I love about Beckett is that one minute he can be dealing with grand existential themes and the next minute someone's pants fall down . . . . I don't think a book ought to be limited to one genre, as comedy or tragedy or whatever. Without wanting to get too grand about it, that's not the way life works, is it? It doesn't divide itself up neatly into humorous part, tragic part - it's more blurred than that. When things seem outwardly perfect, we can find ourselves despairing, and conversely, when things seem at their absolute most hopeless and desolate, we can find ourselves laughing at the silliest joke."
The story of Skippy Dies is hopeless and desolate and you'll find yourself chuckling all the way through it.
With this novel being set in a private Catholic boys school in Ireland at least 20 years ago, it came as no surprise that child molestation should be integral to the plot. How it fits in I won't give away, but I found it difficult to accept such a serious subject in an otherwise frivolous setting. Try as he might, the author simply doesn't succeed for me in mixing comedy and tragedy. I felt pulled in too many directions and ultimately left feeling more empty than either amused or moved.