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Skippy Dies by Paul Murray



Skippy is a fourteen-year-old boy attending Seabrook College, an esteemed boys’ private school in Dublin. The novel begins with Skippy and his roommate Ruprecht engaging in a doughnut eating contest at Ed’s Doughnut House, the local teen hangout. Ruprecht slows down enough on his munching to realize Skippy has keeled over. Ruprecht rushes to his friend’s aid, but Skippy dies after writing on the floor in raspberry syrup, TELL LORI.

Skippy is a fourteen-year-old boy attending Seabrook College, an esteemed boys’ private school in Dublin.  The novel begins with Skippy and his roommate Ruprecht engaging in a doughnut eating contest at Ed’s Doughnut House, the local teen hangout.  Ruprecht slows down enough on his munching to realize Skippy has keeled over.  Ruprecht rushes to his friend’s aid, but Skippy dies after writing on the floor in raspberry syrup, TELL LORI.

And so begins the novel, Skippy Dies by Paul Murray.  We are taken back in time to the events leading up to Skippy’s death.  We get to know Skippy and his friends, the genius Ruprecht, the psychopathic bully Carl, the pretty girl Lori, history teacher Howard the Coward, and a host of other characters that come to life with all their idiosyncrasies and quirks as the mystery of what exactly happened to Skippy unfolds.

A coming of age novel, that is at both times funny and painful, despondent and hopeful.


Book Club Party Ideas for Skippy Dies

After all, much of the action takes place at Ed’s Doughnut House, including Skippy’s untimely demise, so what could top a doughnut-themed book club party for Skippy Dies?

Hang doughnuts with ribbon from the chandelier or ceiling fan or wherever your heart desires.

hanging donuts, doughnuts

There are even fun doughnut shaped balloons should you want to get really crazy with your decorations (as if doughnuts hanging from your chandelier isn’t crazy enough.)  I found these adorable pink doughnut mylar balloons with a cute little smiley face at Amazon.com.

Check out these mouthwatering doughnut posters at AllPosters.com.  You can use these posters to create your own doughnut shop.

Doughnuts with Sugar Pearls and with Chocolate Icing Detail of Doughnut Stack, France

Music

“…’JC’ is I think my favourite Sonic Youth track, capturing perfectly the volatile teenage mix of attitude and vulnerability, sexuality and anxiety.” ~ Author Paul Murray, on the music blog largehearted boy

From Paul Murray himself, for a teen angst atmosphere choose Sonic Youth and the JC track in particular for your book club party music.   You can find Sonic Youth at your favorite music store or go to Amazon.com for easy mp3 download.  Listen to samples of the Sonic Youth album, Dirty, below.

And of course, when you and your guests have had enough of the the teen angst atmosphere, switch to nice and more mellow traditional Irish tunes, available from Amazon.com.


Book Club Menu for Skippy Dies

McDonald’s is popular with teens and these Irish teens are no different.  You could throw in a bunch of McDonald’s hamburgers and buckets of chicken nuggets if you’re going for real teen fare.  However, my book club members would groan if I served McDonald’s AND doughnuts at this party, so I opted for a lighter version of a teen favorite to ease our guilty doughnut binge coming later in the evening.

Teens love pizza, and Ruprecht (page 109) proclaims pizza as his “favourite food” in his address to “fellow intelligent life forms.”   So …. pizza it is!  Prepare the wonderful (and guilt-free) Zucchini Pesto Skillet Pizza with Homemade Pizza Dough.

A doughnut cake is easy to make by stacking a variety of doughnuts and doughnut holes on a cake plate.  You can use cake decorating icing too.

Doughnut Cake

Besides doughnuts, good piping hot coffee is also expected at a doughnut shop.

Good Coffee

Book Club Resources

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads:  3.79 stars (1435 ratings)
Amazon: 3.9 stars (74 ratings)
LibraryThing: 3.88 stars (28 ratings)
My Rating:  5 STARS   Skippy Dies blew me away!  Paul Murray took me on quite an emotional ride with his intelligent, wonderfully witty and profoundly moving novel!  I was roaring with laughter one moment, then fighting back tears the next.   This is a hefty tome at well over 650 pages, but it is worth every moment!

Discussion

  1. Discuss both the comedic and tragic elements of Skippy Dies. Did you find the novel more tragedy or comedy?  Why?
  2. How do you feel the teen characters were portrayed in Skippy Dies?  Were they realistic or caricatures?  Explain.  Which teens did you find likeable?  Sympathetic?
  3. Why do you think Howard was blamed, rather than Guido, for the incident at Dalkey Quarry that earned him the name “Howard the Coward?”
  4. There are some very serious issues handled in this novel:   sexual abuse, anorexia, drug abuse, bullying, self-mutilation, etc.  Do you feel Paul Murray successfully handled these issues without making light of them?
  5. Did you find the ending complete?  If not, on what issues were you hoping to have some closure?

 

Purchase Skippy Dies at your favorite bookseller

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The Author

Paul Murray is an Irish novelist born in 1975.  He graduated from Trinity College in Dublin where he studied literature.  He earned his Masters in creative writing at the University of East Anglia.

Awards for Skippy Dies

  • 2010 The Man Booker Prize Longlist
  • 2010 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award for Comic Fiction
  • #3 on TIME Magazine’s Top Ten Fiction of 2010

Recommended Reading

If you enjoyed Skippy Dies, check out An Evening of Goodbyes, by Paul Murray, and 2 of my favorite novels of teen angst, alienation, and confusion, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

An Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…

Skippy Dies is filled with so many great passages.  Here’s a few of my favorites without giving anything away.  If you’ve read the book, you’re sure to remember these too!

Dennis’ comments on Mario’s “lucky” condom.  (page 155) Poor Mario!

Halley’s description of “Irish-looking” Howard.   (page 77) I’ve thought this myself.

Skippy and “The Game”.  (page 105) I kept hoping the final outcome would somehow be different.

Dennis’ take on Robert Frost’s The Road Less Travelled.  (page 350)  An interesting, x-rated, interpretation from the cynical Dennis!

Lori’s insights after her encounter with Ruprecht after the concert.  (page 653-654) Moving and hopeful.


The Ireland Reading Challenge

Book #2


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