Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
672 pages

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray is an extremely long, but intriguing novel. This book is very interesting, challenging and thought provoking; it is also funny and has great characters. The postmodern structure is brilliant.

Skippy Dies is split into three sections: 1. Hopeland, 2. Heartland, and 2. Ghostland.

In the very beginning the title character dies in a donut shop. He manages to write "Tell Lori" on the floor in donut jelly before dying. His real name is Daniel Juster, but everyone calls him Skippy.

Skippy is an oddball student at Seabrook College for boys. He has a roommate named Ruprecht, a scientific genius who wants to open the portal to other dimensions using ten-dimensional string theory. Skippy also hangs out with a boy nicknamed "MC Sexecutioner," among other weird characters.

The plot revolves around Skippy's love obsession Lori, who attends the girls school right next to Seabrook, who's involved with a drug dealer named Carl. There's also a teacher named Howard, who fell out of love with his live-in girlfriend. Howard falls for a gorgeous substitute teacher named Auriele and they have a brief fling that leads to nothing.

The highlights of the story are Ruprecht believing his experiment to get a figurine to another dimension worked after it disappeared, Lori's conflicted feelings for Carl and Skippy, Howard realizing he made a mistake when he dumped his girlfriend for Auriele, Ruprecht and others sneaking around the school to set up tools for communication with the dead, the creepy Father Green and his immoral desires, and the principal aka "The Automator" and his single-minded objective to get the school updated.

A scene that has a lot of emotional impact is when Ruprecht confronts Lori after Skippy's death and blames her for it. They have an argument that leads to a mutual understanding where they see a glimpse of humanity in each other despite their differences.

A major theme in this book is the fragility and fleeting nature of adolescence and how it impacts the rest of your life.

Skippy Dies offers a lot opportunity for character analysis though the title character remains a tragic mystery.

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