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Skippy Dies

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  19,971 ratings  ·  2,487 reviews
A tragic comedy of epic sweep and dimension, Skippy Dies wrings every last drop of humour and hopelessness out of life, love, mermaids, M-theory, the poetry of Robert Graves, and all the mysteries of the human heart.

Why does Skippy, a fourteen-year-old boy at Dublin's venerable Seabrook College, end up dead on the floor of the local doughnut shop?

Could it have something t
Paperback, Three volume box set, 661 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Hamish Hamilton
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Ian M This book is far from 'NC-17.' There is a bit of sex, sure, but a 14 year-old has known about such things in much greater detail for years now (sorry …moreThis book is far from 'NC-17.' There is a bit of sex, sure, but a 14 year-old has known about such things in much greater detail for years now (sorry moms). Now, that aside, it is a dark novel, but one with enormous heart. It deals with the things a 14-year-old deals with-- peer pressure, friends, relationships, lust, bullies, the rising prevalence of drugs like Adderall, etc etc. If the kid is a bit sheltered, shelf the book. If not, then I don't think it will do any harm. It treats serious matters in a serious manner, including mental health-- something most people are afraid of addressing with teens. It's not revealing anything new to a teen, even a preteen really (maybe minus the Adderall), and it sorts through the complications and implications of every negative choice including the effects on friends and family. Know your kid before giving them this book, sure, but I think it is brutally honest about the issues he/she already faces, and that's something that kids need more often.(less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  19,971 ratings  ·  2,487 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Skippy Dies is a work of genius. Where else could you combine a coming-of-age tale with string theory, ancient Celtic mythology with fart humor, consideration of cultural forgetfulness with Druid drug dealers (say that five times fast), a look at adulthood as a continuation of adolescence with better tools but less hope, substance abuse of sundry sorts, from doughnuts to diet pills, from weed to heroin and cocaine, from sexual predation to the hormonal cravings of early adolescence to self-cutti ...more
I'm the product of an Irish Catholic boarding school for boys. In September 1968, at the tender age of 11, I left the warm (over-)protective bosom of home and family -- not just one, but two grandmothers, and a housekeeper to fuss over me while my mother saw patients -- and became one of the 80 or so boys in the first year class at a Franciscan boarding school, about 25 miles north of Dublin, and 160 miles from home. The experience, particularly the first year, was incredibly brutal*. But it wa ...more
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
skippy dies on the first page of this book.
then there are 600 pages of buildup and aftermath.

it has been compared to Infinite Jest,which i can see, but i also feel it is a good companion-piece to The Instructions. all three of these books (IJ only in part) focus on adolescents who are in school/boarding school environments that use genuinely funny (as opposed to manipulative-funny) humor to offset the horrors of youth and its incipient discoveries. they all have elements of the absurd, of the ne
Paul Bryant
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody
Shelves: novels
Q: Oh, what's this? I don't quite understand. As I recall you said a few derogatory things about Skippy Dies when you were on p 120 and even by p 250 you weren't dancing in the streets and giving out free copies, and yet, here we see five fat stars sitting there, I counted them, and as I understand it that's the maximum number you can award, so what accounts for this seeming change of heart and are you a little ashamed of your original remarks? Would you wish to do a little public recanting?

A :
mark monday
High school life apparently sucks. So does this book.

10 Things I Hate About You, Skippy Dies

(1) Nihilistic misery porn is never my favorite. Too bitter and sour to the taste, and lacking richness. Strange that people love to eat this stuff up. Isn't the world grotesque and maudlin enough to satisfy any hunger people may have for dying-inside despair? Ugh. Obnoxious books like this one are only looking at the trash side of the world, refusing to see anything that doesn't fit into their points of
What to say, what to say. I really enjoyed this book, and I never really feel like writing reviews of my favorites, probably because it's easier to be snarky while taking the piss (oh British). Writing about something that I found intellectually stimulating, or that made me laugh, or moved me (or all three, which this one did) requires me to be genuine and thoughtful in a way making fun of Stephanie Meyer never will. But this is definitely one of my top new release reads of the year, probably a ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"If there is any substitute for love, it is memory."

This book was so engrossing from page one that I spent two sleepless nights trying to finish it, and yes, it was worth it. Skippy Dies will make you laugh out loud while ripping your heart out. As the title suggests, Skippy does die, which becomes the central plot of the book. He dies in the very first chapter. Over the next 600 pages, we find out what happened to Daniel "Skippy" Juster while coming across many distinct characters. I don't know
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Succinctly, Skippy Dies is giddy nitrous laughter, childish wonderment, adolescent awkwardness, and the disappointment and disenchantment of adulthood wrapped up in a hard cover. This book made me laugh and sigh and occasionally hate the big, mean world before conceding that there is still much within it to pine for. And that is the whole point of most coming-of-age tales, right? It has all the proper ingredients, leading it to feel a little too capital-c Cute here and there, but all in all this ...more

Skippy, buddy, I am sorry. I wanted to hear out your story, but some of these people around you tried my patience too far.

From the moment I started reading Skippy Dies, I couldn't stop thinking that I could be reading something better instead. More than 150 pages later, I was still thinking the same. I decided I didn't want to continue reading about a couple of teenagers (except Skippy and Ruprecht) being kind of d*cks and the dismal life of one uninteresting adult.

Skippy Dies is not bad. I so w
Tom Quinn
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A whirling, swirling, nonstop rise and fall of energy.

But what exactly are we reading about? Frustrated potential? Emergent identities in adolescence? A sci-fi mystery? A bildungsroman? All of the above?

You know, you spend your childhood watching TV, assuming that at some point in the future everything you see there will one day happen to you: that you too will win a Formula One race, hop a train, foil a group of terrorists, tell someone 'Give me the gun', etc. The
Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, fiction
Things I learned from Skippy Dies:

"The Road Less Traveled" by Robert Frost is actually about anal sex. (Now please don't all leave me outraged comments and personal messages asking me how I can be so disgusting and impugn Frost's memory. I didn't make it up -- it's actually in the book. Ok, I did choose to mention it, but seriously, how you can review this book without mentioning it, I don't know.)

But there's a lot more to Skippy Dies, which was long-listed for the Man Booker. Paul Murray is pre
Talk about truth in advertising….

As promised in the title, Skippy dies. In fact, he dies in the first few pages when he falls off his stool in a doughnut shop. Who was this kid and what happened? Well, that’s what the rest of the book is for.

Skippy was Daniel Juster, a shy and nerdy boy at a Catholic boy’s school in Ireland. In the time before his death, we meet a variety of characters that are unknowingly part of the chain of events that lead to his untimely demise. There’s Skippy’s roommate, a
Barry Pierce
In Skippy Dies Paul Murray writes 21st-century Ireland's response to Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Set in the fictional Seabrook College, the novel follows the lives of Daniel 'Skippy' Juster and his overweight, genius friend Ruprecht van Doren. However, as the title suggests, Skippy dies. He dies on the very first page. The novel then rewinds back (à la The Secret History) and the story begins.

Over the next 600-pages Murray writes one of the greatest Irish novels of the cent
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
First, whoever wrote the jacket copy for this book deserves to be given a few punches to the head. For the life of me I can't even remember there being a midget basketball player (oh wait, now I can, but the very brief paragraph or two that he appears in the book is unessential), and the white rapper character is just a piece of comic relief. Other reviews do a good job of lambasting the jacket blurbs.

Second, I've read about half of the Harry Potter books, and I don't see the comparison between
I am somewhat reluctantly abandoning this book. I feel a bit guilty about it, because I am not without curiosity about how all this meandering prose will resolve itself into a single theme. Or maybe it won't.

But my guilt only carries me so far. Most of the blame here must be assumed by Mr. Murray. The narration is tedious and gloomy. The characters are bleakly hopeless. There are occasional references to things like cell phones, string thory, and computers, but I frequently felt the author had r

‘How telling it is,’ he says in his sermon, shaking his illustrious golden-locked head, ‘that Daniel’s short life should come to its end in a restaurant devoted to doughnuts. For in some ways, is our modern way of life not comparable to one of these doughnuts? “Junk food” that satisfies only temporarily, that offers a “quick fix”, but has, at the center of it, a hole?’

Doughnuts, alcohol, drugs, sex, tv, video games, exercise, goodreads --you name it -- we as a society have used it to try to fill
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My sons attended a Boys School with the same traditions as Seabrook College with its 140 years of excellence.

After reading the Spud Trilogy of John van der Ruit :
 Spud #1
The Madness Continues #2
Learning to Fly #3
I wanted to read Skippie Dies as well.

In a way I felt I owed it to my sons to read these books, since they never shared everything with me. I knew they were not talking. Not that they were the totally innocent type at all. The books made m
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The juggler walks on stage to polite applause. He hasn’t won us over yet, but he seems confident that he will. Somewhat surprisingly, he announces what the dramatic highpoint of his act will be before even starting. (view spoiler) Like all jugglers, he has his clichéd elements: rings, knives, a little fire maybe. (vi ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it

Skippy Dies is an eager-to-please puppy.

Now let me just say, I'm very sympathetic to the problems of an author: avoid cliches, show, don't tell, consistent characters that grow, realistic dialogue, active voice. Semicolons? Adjectives? and so on. I pat Skippy on its head and say good boy, you’re really trying.

And yet.

Little Skippy, I like you well enough - but you do get on my nerves.

Let’s be clear: Skippy is not a dog. I mean that in every sense. It’s pretty much a good story, though somewhat
“…a string vibrating at one frequency will give you a quark, say, and a string vibrating at another frequency will give you a photon…Nature is made of all the musical notes that are played on this superstring, so the universe is like a kind of symphony.” (Ruprecht, p. 152)

It’s been years since this book came out. It made such a big splash on its debut I feared it may be popular fiction of a type that doesn’t interest me. I waited a little, had a peek, retreated. A big book in the vernacular of
Stephen M
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: self-deprecating string-theorists
Recommended to Stephen M by: Goodreads and the world at large
This book is a bit long. There are certainly good reasons for it but I do have Murray to blame for staying up all night to finish the last 200 pages of this book. Which, without a doubt, are enthralling. The length does several things (a comment that I'm sure the characters of the book would make a crass joke out of), but the most important is the slow roll of character development. As many others have pointed out, the book begins on pretty familiar territory. There are handfuls of coming-of-age ...more
It’s not you, Skippy Dies, it’s me.

I’d heard nothing but praise for this book before I started it. Almost all of my Goodreads friends who’ve reviewed it have given it five stars. Nearly all of the top-rated reviews on Goodreads give it five stars. It was nominated for various awards, including the Booker (well, it was longlisted at least). Apparently, it’s one of Donna Tartt’s favourite books. So you can imagine that I had high hopes for this one, and started it with absolute optimism that it wa
Megan Baxter
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's several months in the life of a boys' public school in Ireland. It is nothing like Harry Potter. It is chockablock with early teen angst and cruelty, and the particular vagaries of that age of life, which are so easily forgotten when the headiness of later adolescence closes in. And everyone's story is the most important story to them, and yet, we discover how different those stories are, and how stories are covered up and papered over, and different narratives installed in their place to m ...more
Richard Derus
Mar 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: pearl-ruled
Rating: one bazillionth of one star out of five (p19)

Oh dear GAWD please please please send plagues of boils and masses of ingrown back hairs and painful rectal itch upon the next writer, editor, and publisher to think the adolescent Irish boys are worthy of ANY MORE ATTENTION!!

Enough already, no more, basta, and just F*CKING STOP IT!

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I discovered Skippy dies through Goodreads and it immediately caught my attention. I love novels dealing with perilous youth and growing up, novels dealing with school and academic life; when I learned that Skippy Dies follows the lives and adventures of a group of teenagers in an Irish boarding school, I was sold. Judging by ratings and reviews I even though that Skippy might enter the great canon of boarding school literature. School stories are a very British thing - they really kicked off af ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Skippy Dies is a mystery. Much less and not really of the “who dunit” variety, but it’s a mystery of life. A fairly common complaint among reviewers is that it’s too long, but after it’s over it’s hard to imagine what to cut out. I also agreed that it compares to A Catcher in the Rye (in spite of the vast difference in size) in that you’ve learned and are changed by the reading, but it’s near impossible to put it in words. Since I’m not a literature expert, I was confused by the new (to me) cate ...more
Lisa Reads & Reviews
I hadn't expected to like Skippy Dies. Literary novels haven't attracted my interest for some time now---since, say, The Unbearable Lightness of Being and several works by Cormac McCarthy, all read and loved a long time ago. Frankly, many literary tomes can seem tedious or pompous or both. I relish strange new worlds with unfamiliar landscapes such as those written by China Miéville and more recently, the mind-blowing The Quantum Thief.

That said, how in the world did Paul Murray pull me into Sea
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Bought this today as an "OMG congratulations on being 31 and finally getting a real job" reward. It better be worth it; even at the Strand it was $14. Real job does not equal real money on the first day, turns out.


Holy balls this book is so good. I put it #1 on my CCLaP best-of-2011! Here's what I said about it there:

This is a straight-up, no nonsense, trickery-free whirl of a novel. It takes place in an Irish boys' school, following a whole group of tween boys, as well as many of their teache
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skippy Dies is an engaging, entertaining and thoughtful novel about the turmoil of growing up, which for me just misses out on full marks because of its low notes and relentless adolescent humour (this, confirming my suspicion that I am, in fact, getting old; how depressing). But I did love the depiction of the emotional turbulence of high-school life, which vividly brought me back to my own experience in quite a disturbing way. There is such vitality and fervour inherent in that time of life, b ...more
MJ Nicholls
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, pogue-mahone
I find growing up such a strain, partly since I’ve hit my middle twenties and I can’t seem to get on with it. All the routines of life—unemployment, infidelity, alcoholism—I look upon with wry amusement, as mere targets for my satiric inner child to mock from my ivory tower. This novel paints a cynically accurate portrait of teenagehood (at least among rich Catholic kids) as texting thugs driven by spite, sex and sleeping pills. And the adults too are misguided souls, aimlessly searching for an ...more
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Paul Murray is an Irish novelist. He studied English literature at Trinity College, Dublin and has written two novels: An Evening of Long Goodbyes (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2003, and nominated for the Kerry Irish Fiction Award) and Skippy Dies (longlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize and the 2010 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award for comic fiction).

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