Monday, 15 March 2010

Book of the Week - Paul Murray, Skippy Dies

Skippy Dies was released several weeks ago, but is worth highlighting as an outsider for this year's literary awards. It is a second novel by Paul Murray, and presented in the unusual format of three paperbacks in a slipcase. Paul Murray was born in 1975. He studied English literature at Trinity College in Dublin. He has a Masters degree in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. Paul was a former bookseller and his first novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2003 and was nominated for the Kerry Irish Fiction Award.

Skippy Dies is a comedy about the death of a schoolboy in unusual circumstances. Some reviewers have likened it to A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz, which I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of years ago. Expect a large book, with lots of dreadful puns, strange events and a serious subtext. (French teacher Father Green is popularly known by the translation Père Vert; supply teacher Aurelie McIntyre, rejecting the lustful advances of colleagues, is “not-to-be-taken Aurelie”). You have been warned....

“Ruprecht Van Doren is an overweight genius whose hobbies include very difficult maths and the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Daniel 'Skippy' Juster is his roommate. In the grand old Dublin institution that is Seabrook College for Boys, nobody pays either of them much attention. But when Skippy falls for Lori, the Frisbee-playing Siren from the girls' school next door, suddenly all kinds of people take an interest - including Carl, part-time drug-dealer and official school psychopath. While his teachers battle over modernisation, and Ruprecht attempts to open a portal into a parallel universe, Skippy, in the name of love, is heading for a showdown - in the form of a fatal doughnut-eating race that only one person will survive. This unlikely tragedy will explode Seabrook's century-old complacency and bring all kinds of secrets into the light, until teachers and pupils alike discover that the fragile lines dividing past from present, love from betrayal - and even life from death - have become almost impossible to read.”

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