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Skippy Dies: A Novel by Paul Murray

Skippy Dies: A Novel (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Paul Murray (Author)

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2,0841085,332 (3.86)232
Why does Skippy, a student at Dublin's venerable Seabrook College, end up dead on the floor of the local doughnut shop? Could it have something to do with his friend Ruprecht Van Doren, who is determined to open a portal into a parallel universe using ten-dimensional string theory? Or Carl, the teenage drug dealer who is Skippy's rival in love?… (more)
Title:Skippy Dies: A Novel
Authors:Paul Murray (Author)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2011), Edition: Reprint, 672 pages
Collections:Your library

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Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (2010)

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» See also 232 mentions

English (102)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (107)
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
This sucked. Got about 10 pages in. Not worth it. ( )
  CurioCollective | Jun 25, 2020 |
my mom keeps giving me books about wayward irish teens (???) this is the first one i've liked! Its treatment of topical issues is obvious and heavy-handed but topical issues are usually treated thusly. A lot of characters are played to type, especially the girls, who are unusually dumb in this book, but I've been to an all-girls' Irish school and I can forgive the stereotyping.

Such an immensely readable book, I finished it in just a few days. ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
A real page turner story of teenage school angst.full of laugh-out loud humour and pathos. ( )
  INeilC | Mar 22, 2020 |
Though it ends with an act of arson and several near death experiences, the novel Skippy Dies by Paul Murray left me feeling serene. I felt filled with an overarching sense of meaning, of internal stillness, that comes at the end of a very good book. This is not altogether a good thing--it's difficult to be fully engaged in a text whilst you are still suspended in the amber of its magic. But it left me grasping at disparate details, at small things, to assemble them into a whole, to pick apart the compositional threads of the novel's wholecloth and then try to weave them back together.

I'd argue that that's what the whole book is about.

But I'm putting the cart ahead of the horse. This is a good book. The actual, physical book is nice. The American hardback is published by Farber and Farber Inc., and you can tell they invested in it. The paper (oh the paper, the glorious paper) is smooth and soft and lends it a reassuring solidity. The cover is abstract, but in a good way: it communicates something in the end, resembling waves drawn in watercolor, shaky and bleeding into each other at the intersections. The typography is nicely balanced and not at all intrusive, and there's some fun stuff with formatting that would be lost in a digital edition: an instance of E. E. Cummings-like fiddling with spacing and symbols; a popstar's name rendered in what looks like Curlz MT instead of the steady serif of the rest of the text; a sci-fi inspired font for SMS communication. They're small, these variations, and used sparingly, but they make the text feel whole. It feels polished and finished, like an entity unto itself. (Might I add how nice it is that the kids text in this book? I feel like in a lot of literary fiction, technology simply fades into the background. It's like Facebook or any facsimile thereof simply doesn't exist. No one skypes, no one has to go charge their car, no one almost walks out into traffic because they were playing games on their phone while walking around with earbuds in. Tcheh.)

The title is a spoiler. Daniel "Skippy" Juster is a boarder at a prestigious Irish school. He is in his second year, which is roughly equivalent to 8th or 9th grade, and within six pages he is dead. So, okay, while the jacket copy's comparison to Infinite Jest is mostly off the wall, the two are similar in that they revolve around a death, and that though Skippy is the protagonist, the novel just as often takes place from the perspective of other characters: Lorelei, girl he's infatuated with; Howard Fallon, his history teacher; Carl, the menacing and more than slightly crazy classmate who harasses him. Murray invokes the poltergeist of adolescent lust almost too well. Awkward, all-consuming infatuation, lust, jumbled sex ed, schoolyard politics... and a reminder through the adults that all that still lurks below the polish of maturity.

He also uses the second person, and though the first time I was taken aback by the sheer novelty, it feels natural. It lets him slip readers into a pocket dimension within the book's greater arc--into Carl's fracturing and dream-like reality, into Skippy's video games. It works. It makes me so happy that it works.

The one thing that irks me a little is the end. In places it feels rushed--that act of arson pulls back from the limited perspective of the rest of the piece. It moves quicker, yes, but it felt a little glossed over. And the novel's thesis of sorts is spelled out rather plainly in the last few pages... but I sort of liked that.

I'm dumb sometimes. Epiphanies cannot be summoned on command. But the experience of this book, and books in general, is one similar to my layman's knowledge of the relationship between the quantum and the relativistic as they stand now: two realms indivisible, their interactions incomprehensible, except for the beautiful idea that we are all comprised of buzzing strings that bind us into one whole, across infinity, across space-time and n dimensions. (I said layman's knowledge, okay?) But it felt like Murray (and his publisher and editors) has been spinning this web of stories, of characters and actions and plot and typography and cover design into one whole, into one moment dwindling down to a single point, into a supercompact dimension a breath away from ours and unimaginably dense: pages 654 and 655. It felt like an ending, and a good one at that. ( )
  prufrockcoat | Dec 3, 2019 |
This is the first book I’ve read written by this Author and, I’ll say this upfront, I’ll probably be hunting down some more of his books to read.

The whole book is centred on a group of teenage boys, one of whom dies within the first few pages. However, this is not the last we read about this character as the book covers events leading up to the moment of his death. Teenage boys are a totally different species to any walking the earth and the Author manages to catch their peculiarities perfectly in his character building. He covers all those one would meet at a boarding school from the bookish to priests to parents, bullies and beyond; he then brings them to life and throws them into a story that grabs the reader from the very first. The Author is able to capture their adolescent humour, their obvious obsession with anything remotely female (this being an all boy’s school) and set it down in a way that appeals to all readers. Each of the characters is written skilfully, pulling on the different personality and traits that can be found in a variety of guises in this age group. As a parent myself I remember my own son going through his teenage years and I picked him out of the crowd with no difficulty, along with a bevy of his ‘associates’. The Author has managed to capture the classroom antics, attitude towards the teachers and classmate banter so well that there is no character that stands out from the others as the main protagonist; not even ‘Skippy’

This is by no means a ‘Lord of the Flies’ type book, and I would defy anyone not to be caught up in the humour of everything in this easy read. Despite there being a huge number of characters, major themes and plot points the Author is able to juggle them all seamlessly and well. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a light and humourous read.

Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.com/2015/10/26/review-skippy-dies-paul-murray/

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
( )
  TheAcorn | Nov 8, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
Six hundred sixty-one pages may seem like a lot to devote to a bunch of flatulence-obsessed kids, but that daunting length is part and parcel of the cause to which “Skippy Dies,” in the end, is most devoted. Teenagers, though they may not always act like it, are human beings, and their sadness and loneliness (and their triumphs, no matter how temporary) are as momentous as any adult’s. And novels about them — if they’re as smart and funny and touching as “Skippy Dies” — can be just as long as they like.
[T]his is an extremely ambitious and complex novel, filled with parallels, with sometimes recondite references to Irish folklore, with quantum physics, and with much more.
added by bell7 | editBooklist, Michael Cart

» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paul Murrayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arensman, Dirk-JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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(I) Hopeland: These daydreams persisted like an alternate life ... [Robert Graves]
(II) Heartland: People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. [Albert Einstein]
(III) Ghostland: For where there are Irish there's memory undying, And when we forget, it is Ireland no more! [Rudyard Kipling]
For Seán
First words
Skippy and Ruprecht are having a doughnut-eating race one evening when Skippy turns purple and falls off his chair.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Life makes fools of us all sooner or later. But keep your sense of humour and you'll at least be able to take your humiliations with some measure of grace. In the end, you know, it's our own expectations that crush us. (S. 628)
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Disambiguation notice
Skippy Dies, without any reference to subtitles or parts, refers to the complete work, which includes the three parts "Hopeland", "Heartland", and "Ghostland".  Please do not combine the complete work with any single-part edition.  For example, do not combine "Skippy Dies" or "Skippy Dies - Hopeland-Heartland-Ghostland" with "Skippy Dies - Hopeland" or with "Skippy Dies, Part 1".
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Book description
‘Skippy and Ruprecht are having a doughnut-eating race one evening when Skippy turns purple and falls off his chair . . .’

And so begins this epic, tragic, comic, brilliant novel set in and around Dublin’s Seabrook College for Boys. Principally concerning the lives, loves, mistakes and triumphs of overweight maths-whiz Ruprecht Van Doren and his roommate Daniel ‘Skippy’ Juster, it features a frisbee-throwing siren called Lori, the joys (and horrors) of first love, the use and blatant misuse of prescription drugs, Carl (the official school psychopath), various attempts to unravel string theory . . . while at the same time exploring the very deepest mysteries of the human heart.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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