čtvrtek 11. srpna 2011

Paul Murray: Skippy Dies

   I have no idea how I cam across this book, I guess I must have read about it somewhere on the Internet. Than I asked my Dad to get it for me for Xmas and it was only now that I finally got to read it.
   There is not much of a story, at least there is no clear story line to follow (although the book has 660 pages). It’s more of a mixture of characters who are trying to somehow lead a worthy life (in which most of them…if not all of them…fail) or at least survive (in which some of them fail too). The story takes place in Seabrook – a prestigious Catholic boarding school in Dublin (it actually doesn’t exist but it is based on a school the author attended). The book presents us with POVs of several characters – mainly Skippy, Ruprecht, Carl and Howard. There are some other minor narrators, like Greg, the headmaster and evil incarnated; Father Green (aka Père Vert), a French teacher who hates French people and language, he hates teaching and most of all...he hates teaching French; and Lori, Skippy’s and Carl’s dream girl.
   Skippy is a student at the school, he’s 14 year old and for some unknown reason (later it is known, of course) he is so depressed he has to swallow handfuls of pills. He gradually falls deeper and deeper into depression until one day, he sees Lori and helplessly falls in love. Ruprecht is his friend and room-mate, a overweighed genius whose best entertainment is to sit in basement, trying to contact other intelligent species in Space. He tries to prove the string theory but after Skippy dies, he kind of loses it and tries make a contact with the beyond. Carl is same old as Skippy and Ruprecht but he’s a big, strong guy, a bully and a drug dealer and drug addict in one person. And Howard is their History teacher with a girlfriend whom he no longer loves who falls in love with a super-hot bitchy substitute teacher Miss McIntyre.
   The over-all feeling you’ll get from this book is a super-deep depression because this world is just fucked up beyond repair. All the characters try to deal somehow with this fact…mostly by getting high or drunk…or, in Ruprecht’s case, by eating piles of doughnuts. Sometimes, they get almost philosophical and reflect about life and world and Universe and Love and stuff and there are some really interesting ideas. The book mixes all kinds of moods – it’s funny, tragic, cynical and in a way brutal and disgusting in the same time. Sometimes it might be a little bit too much (one of Lori’s chapters will change your attitude to oral sex forever).
   But besides great characters and ideas, there is Murray’s excellent style. If you happen to teach about direct, indirect and all-those-between-direct-and-indirect speeches in English, use this book as your source text. On the other hand, it sometimes get a little confusing (especially Carl’s chapters lack quotations marks and sometimes they lack diacritics completely). He uses unbelievably wide range of similes – from biblical visions (used in really funny way – like when he describes Ruprecht putting his robot on floor as Moses’ mother letting her baby float in basket) to contemporary movies and computer games. He also has wonderfully imaginative, almost poetic language – mostly in the part when people are affected by drugs (I doubt there is any other book in which someone would describe eyes of someone on drugs in so many different ways).
   I really loved this book and if it weren’t so long, I would be sure to read it again sometime later. Hard to say if I’ll ever make myself re-read the whole novel but it is worth it. It was longlisted for Booker Prize 2010 so I really wonder what the awarded book is like because it should be frelling awesome if it beat Skippy… Anyway, there will be a movie next year so there should be a trailer soon. 

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