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Skippy Dies [Paperback]

Paul Murray
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 April 2011

Paul Murray's Skippy Dies is a tragicomic masterpiece about a Dublin boarding school

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010

Ruprecht Van Doren is an overweight genius whose hobbies include very difficult maths and the Search of 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. . .

A tragic comedy of epic sweep and dimension, Skippy Dies scours the corners of the human heart and wrings every drop of pathos, humour and hopelessness out of life, love, Robert Graves, mermaids, M-theory, and everything in between.

'That rare thing, a comic epic. . . Murray is a brilliant comic writer, but also humane and touching, and he captures the misery and elation, joy and anxiety of teenage life' David Nicholls, Guardian

'Novels rarely come as funny and as moving as this utterly brilliant exploration of teenhood and the anticlimax of becoming an adult . . . one of the finest comic novels written anywhere' Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

'I loved Skippy Dies . . . three novels fused into one ignited tragicomic tour de force' Ali Smith, Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year

'An unforgettably exuberant saga set in an Irish boys' school. The insulting repartee is Shakespearean, the minor characters hilarious, and Murray captures the fleeting joys and lasting sorrows of adolescence perfectly' Emma Donoghue, Daily Telegraph

'A triumph . . . brimful of wit and narrative energy' Sunday Times

'The sprawling brilliance of Paul Murray's darkly comic second novel works on many different levels . . . When you finish the last page, you may be tempted to start all over again' Metro

Paul Murray is the author of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award in 2005, and Skippy Dies, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141009950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141009957
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 12.8 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Savagely funny, brimful of wit, energy, poetry and vision, unflaggingly entertaining. A triumph (Sunday Times)

One of the most enjoyable, funny and moving reads of this year. A rare tragicomedy that's both genuinely tragic and genuinely comic (Guardian)

Darkly comic, dazzles, every line drips ideas for fun. Unputdownably funny, captivating. A masterpiece (Metro)

Ambitious, wise, funny, fiercely intelligent. The beauty of this cynical, hopeful, beautifully written book is that it builds a detailed world to explore life, the universe and everything (Sunday Express)

Hilarious, heartbreaking, totally engrossing. A triumph (Daily Mail)

Novels rarely come as funny and as moving as this utterly brilliant

exploration of teenhood and the anticlimax of becoming an adult . . . Skippy Dies is intuitive, truthful and one of the finest comic novels written anywhere. Dies? Never! Skippy lives

(Eileen Battersby Irish Times)

I loved Skippy Dies . . . three novels fused into one ignited tragicomic tour de force (Ali Smith Times Literary Supplement)

Skippy Dies is one great high-octane fizz bang of a book (Patrick McCabe Irish Times)

Extravagantly entertaining (New York Times Book Review)

A comic epic. Murray is a brilliant comic writer, but also humane and touching, and he captures the misery and elation, joy and anxiety of teenage life. A brilliant depiction of the heaven and hell of male adolescence (David Nicholls Guardian)

Murray's writing has earned a place in the contemporary international canon . . . Murray's characters are so three-dimensionally drawn and brought to such vivid life that they may haunt your dreams (Irish Independent)

About the Author

Paul Murray is the author of An Evening of Long Goodbyes, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award in 2003 and is published by Penguin. Skippy Dies is his second novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
By Jackie
One of the reasons I love reading entire long lists (Skippy Dies was long listed for 2010 Booker Prize) is that I stumble upon fantastic books that I wouldn't otherwise pick up. I had heard good things about Skippy Dies before the Booker long list was announced, but I couldn't motivate myself to read 650+ pages about teenagers living in an Irish boarding school. I'm so pleased that I read this book as it was entertaining, gripping and insightful.

The book opens with Daniel `Skippy' Juster dying. At first the reason for his death seems obvious, but the plot then goes back in time and we slowly discover that the cause of Skippy's death isn't as simple as people initially suspected.

Much of this book could be described as a coming-of-age story, but unlike most other books which describe the lives of teenagers, this book captivated me. Skippy drew me into his emotionally charged world and nearly managed to make me laugh and cry - something no other book has managed to do. I was amazed at how much the everyday school life engaged me - I flew through the book and found every single one of the pages to be captivating and necessary for the plot.

Skippy's roommate is Ruprecht, an overweight genius trying utilise M-theory to travel to another dimension. I'm a big fan of complex science in literature, but I'm sure that those who struggle to understand physics will still love Ruprecht's enthusiasm for invention. As well as physics we are also treated to war poetry, Irish folklore and an array of other subjects - I loved it!

As the book drew to a conclusion I became increasingly impressed with the complexity of the plot. When I reached the final page I wanted to start the book all over again, just so I could see the little clues that I'd failed to pick up on.
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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful
This book (longlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize) grabbed hold of me on the very dramatic opening pages and tossed me out the other end (page 672!) only 3 days later. What a page turner. Hailing as I do from the same side of the Liffey where this story is based, it was like being transported back in time to my schooldays, though how times have changed with the onslaught of modern technologies.

Skippy Dies is based primarily in Seabrook College, home to day and boarding pupils alike. It fixes in on both the young teenage students and their teachers, and their lives away from school. What really struck me was how today's teenagers have no concept of what having a private life means. Camera phones and social networking sites are the norm and any indiscretions can be made widely known in seconds.

The book deals beautifully with the story behind each of the main characters, exploring their past, their family life, what brought them to the here and now and their current emotional state. When you add the girls school next door into the mix the story really takes off.

The title is self explanatory, but all is not what it seems, so my advice is to let Murray take you on this wonderfully touching journey of discovery.

I don't want to give away too much other than to say all the characters are wonderfully portrayed in such fantastic detail. Murray's style of writing is both hilarious and poignant.

This is not one to miss. I read the full, one book edition. It also comes in a really nice 3-volume box set if you fancy breaking it up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Get a new editor, Paul 8 Oct 2013
Full of potential and missed opportunities, this is a book crying out for a rewrite. Keep the fantastic, funny teenage dialog between Skippy, Ruprecht and Mario. Keep the peculiar, sinister cast of teaching staff at the Dublin Seabrook College for Boys. Lose the tepid confused romance between two of the younger teachers. And for heavens sake lose half the words. No, two-thirds. The bones of the book - the story revolves around the doomed, tragic Skippy and the sinister, lost Carl - are promising. But this book meanders on interminably: I skipped huge chunks and still got bored.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
There's something wrong with the UK and Irish publishing industries if they can't see that this type of over complex, over written and over hyped product is not what people want when they are looking for "good" writing. This could have been masterful, if much of the superfluous stuff had been stripped out and the plot had been reduced down to its basics of teenage angst, an early mid life crisis and an institution needing modernisation.

The first half was hard going and it was only curiosity that made me stick with it past the halfway point. Thankfully, it picks up some pace and the threads begin to come together, but it's still a mishmash of a book that ultimately irritated the hell out of me.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'if there is a substitute for love it is memory' 11 Mar 2010
No need to worry about spoilers on this one then. Irish author Paul Murray even places the titular death at the very beginning of this vast and multi-stranded novel. Let there be no doubt: Skippy does indeed die. But it's not as simple as that of course. How could it be in a novel that looks at a group of school children and their teachers in an elite religious school in Dublin and includes everything from string theory to fatal donut eating contests. The 600+ page book is split up into three separate volumes, collected in a slipcase and whilst the first is easily the most enjoyable the whole book is a rollicking ride that displays some extraordinary stylistic flourishes along the way.

The fictional college of Seabrook, run by the Paraclete fathers provides an institution where Murray can assemble a large cast of characters and also contrast those two sides of Ireland; the traditional and the modern. Whilst the Principal, Father Furlong, lies recuperating in hospital (his order are quite literally a dying breed) Vice Principal Greg Costigan, nicknamed 'The Automator', a progressive, has the opportunity to forward his agenda of modernisation. Nothing is sacred to him in his campaign to bring the school into the 21st century whether that be ancient school buildings or even the Paraclete fathers themselves. One might expect to encounter raging hormones amongst the boys of Seabrook but there is turmoil too for one of the masters there, Howard, as he struggles to keep things happy at home with his girlfriend whilst rather in thrall to the enigmatic new geography teacher, a fascination which helps contribute to the first section's brilliant set-piece finale.

But let's meet a few of the boys.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Insights into teenage boys and the Catholic Church.
A really, really good book. It made me go on to buy his other book which is a lot lighter and so far, slightly disappointing.
Published 5 months ago by nicky freud
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I have read An Evening of Last Goodbyes (I think that is what it was called) and it was very funny so in contrast Skippy Dies is a big disappointment. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sarah Gould
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well
Too long for what it is. The first half is truly hilarious and great fun to read but then I got bored.
Published 7 months ago by RH
1.0 out of 5 stars skippy dies and didn't get any better
Another Book club choice and the worst one yet. I persevered with this book to finish one of only two in our club to do so. Read more
Published 8 months ago by A. Browne
4.0 out of 5 stars The School Story, Exploded
This book was loaned to me by a friend who wasn't sure whether she should bother reading it. The initial auspices are not favourable. Read more
Published 8 months ago by A Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Thought provoking, sad, funny, disturbing and very well written - it really gets into the mind of an adolescent boy. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. A. Foss
4.0 out of 5 stars Completely engrossing and good read
The first scene in the book where Skippy dies is really gripping, and from then on you're on a journey learning about how and why he's dead. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Katy
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Skippy Dies is tragic, hilarious and heartwarming. I was gripped from start to finish and compelled to read on, something which I usually only feel in story-driven genre novels. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Topher George
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't like and only read 20per cent
Fountd this book irritating and probly suited to adolescents. Maybe it got bettter further on but really life is too short. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Richard Cusack
1.0 out of 5 stars disasterous
Utterly boring. I read a few chapters. This ment to be funny i didnt find anything funny in the story. Read more
Published 13 months ago by ireadnovels
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