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2012 Book Discussions > Skippy Dies - Heartland (March 2012)

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message 1: by Deborah (last edited Mar 04, 2012 07:03AM) (new)

Deborah | 983 comments For the discussion of the Heartland section.


message 2: by Julia (new)

Julia I'm really enjoying Ruprecht's obsession with M-theory and the way the search for order reflects the way each of the characters is searching for some form of escape.

The black humour also manages to keep sheer bleakness at bay. After Father Green's pedophilic tendencies are exposed, I was not expecting Skippy's peers to greet him with jokes about this very secret following his time alone with him!


message 3: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments School children deal with things in the most unexpected ways. And this I think is one of the strengths of this book: that the author ensures his characters are not cardboard cut-outs. They are richly complex.


message 4: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 983 comments I think he sets up a lot of interesting themes in the beginning and when we all get to the end it will be very interesting to discuss which of these ideas are realized and which ones aren't.

Listening to the book again (awesome audiobook, by the way) I've been turning over Murray's treatment of the headmaster. He made some interesting choices. Costigan is a bit of a caricature. Was that a flaw or a choice, I wonder.


message 5: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments I agree the audio book is awesome. I listened to the version read by Patrick Moy.

I think Costigan as a caricature was deliberate. I can't believe that such a talented author would have had it otherwise.


message 6: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 983 comments I agree. And if that's accepted the next question might be to examine the intention.


message 7: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) Well all the adults this far in the book are caricature (I haven't finished it yet) and Skippy's demise provides the opportunity for them to break the facade, let the mask slip a little. That's a cliche in itself, and I hope the book finds a way around the cliches by the end. I am enjoying it quite a bit, but it annoyingly flirts with greatness, twice now I've felt like it was on the verge, only to slip between it's fingers.


message 8: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments Yes, all the adults are caricatures, but perhaps that's the point, because our empathy should be with the children. In any event isn’t it often the case that characters in comic novels tend to be farcical; equally the plots?

I don't usually like comic novels - and in the event didn't find this one particularly funny... So, it may be that I don’t know what I’m talking about (!)

However, I was won over on this occasion by the quality of the dialogue and - as I've indicated before - the children could get right up and walk off the page. I was also impressed with the ways in which some the issues (anorexia, drug abuse and sanity) were handled.

Yes, there are flaws and I think it doesn't need to be as long as it is. Even so this might not be a great book, but of its ilk I consider it to be a good one.


message 9: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 983 comments I don't know. I found Howard well realized.


message 10: by William (new)

William Mego (willmego) I found howard the most fleshed out, of course..but still all the adults are cliches, again I think that's by design so doubt can creep in post-skippy (should I call it AS and BSE?) such as the bar scene after the reception, where Farley gets into the fight with Tom. Even the acting headmaster allows himself a moment of clarity when he ponders the frantic upset parents of other children and whether they really believed the contents of the school brochure. I'll be interested to see if the cliches get broken or ignored by the end, but barring some giant Malaprop of an ending, this book is getting at least 4 stars from me.


message 11: by Cees (new)

Cees Bood | 9 comments Maybe they are clichés, but I meet in reality surprisingly many stereotypes.


message 12: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 983 comments I didn't see most of them as thin, as much as tertiary. They were only as present as they needed to be.

But Costigan in particular felt like a mockery of himself.


message 13: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Roberts | 1324 comments I was thinking that maybe the adults were at their best (in terms of characterisation) when they were acting in ways that the children found - or would have found - admirable. On these occasions they were usually being honest with themselves.

Just a thought...


message 14: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) | 146 comments I think the book is generally (even when not directly) told from the point of view of an adolescent. So of course the adults would appear less vivid (and less sympathetically).

Also just a thought...


message 15: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 983 comments And it's true that Howard is in many ways suffering a second adolescence. Perhaps brought on by his return to school.

I think Ellie is right.


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