Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sunday Salon: Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

I am having an indulgent Sunday. I am reading Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, and just finished the first part (which actually has the form of a physical book since Penguin have published it as three separate volumes in a slip-case).

It is, in part, very funny - with the same sort of humour as Father Ted and Black Books - and in other places has a thoroughly-modern lyricism. There is also one part - describing the sensitive dealing of the swimming coach with one of the main characters in the book - which I found so unexpectedly moving that it almost hurt.

It is, in the main, overwhelmingly masculine - which is understandable given that it is set in a boys' public school in Ireland. The only women have walk-on parts as girl-friends and wives, although Halley, the girl-friend of one of the characters is given her own short chapter. It gives any female reader a great insight into the mind of the adolescent male, and they do indeed seem to think about sex or, more specifically, their penises, every ten seconds (or even more frequently than that). This leads to a lot of humour (in one instance using the male member as a metaphor for multi-dimensionality in M-theory). The general humour of the classroom is also evoked through very well-observed scenes as the boys react to the sexy teacher, the old fogie teacher, the gormless teacher and the tyrannical teacher of French, Father Green (amusingly Pere Vert in French).

There is a new acting head teacher who has ambitions to drag the school into the twenty-first century, a history teacher who lusts after a substitute teacher called Aurelie (which allows for another pun about sexual mores) and a vivid selection of pupils including the eponymous Skippy.

The final section of the last book was a stream of consciousness, which was so good it somehow gave me the sensation of fireworks going off. So far, then I am finding it highly entertaining and so compelling I've picked up book 2 already.


Blogger dhamel said...

I thought his name sounded familiar. He's the guy who wrote An Evening of Long Goodbyes, which was amusing.

Sun May 09, 02:18:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thought I don't remember your reading this, Debra - and see from your review it was right back in January 2005 - before I knew you!

Sun May 09, 02:28:00 pm  

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