DEATH by falling from a chair after excess consumption of donuts is quite the unfortunate if interesting fate. ‘Skippy Dies’, Paul Murray’s second novel, tells of such a tale.
I came by the book quite by chance. A trip to Easons to buy a 50 cent packet of chewing gum resulted in being lured in to view their latest ‘3 for 2’ offers. Moments later I left with 3 random titles I knew nothing about and my wallet €25 lighter. Two of the books were utter trash, and while it may sound utterly clichéd, ‘Skippy Dies’ made up for it.
It’s set in a Catholic boarding school for boys, an environment many are familiar with (fortunately or unfortunately), starring a stereotypical set of teenagers; weird ones, geeky ones, fat ones, love-struck ones and of course the damn stupid.
The novel is filled with a rich narrative of many quandaries and predicaments which torment adolescent lives: the trauma of a first “love”, drinking cans at the side of a takeaway and becoming addicted to dieting pills.
I’m defying all journalistic convention by saying I couldn’t put the book down. But I’m being honest, I really couldn’t! Sheer hilarity ensues throughout, giving a giddy encouragement to read on. I struggle to consider who could not relate at all to it. Coming of age combined with shenanigans, digressions over string theory while building a time machine is somewhat of a cracker. That said if anyone reading this has built a time machine, fair play.
It is quite unpredictable, which is one of the biggest qualities I look for in a novel; there is indeed nothing worse than knowing what exactly is going to happen next. It provides a reminder of how difficult it was to be 14 with the whole world against you, except for that one girl from the convent across the road.
It is as sad as it is giddy. The adventurous escapades ultimately lead to a darker core offering an ideal balance of emotion. Skippy does indeed die, after falling off a chair while eating donuts. So, ten points for originality, I won’t ruin the rest for you.
Someone told me the cover is probably one of the worst they’ve ever seen on a book. Well, as the saying goes don’t judge a book by a cover and, in this case, that couldn’t be more true.