herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Femme Bookend: Death by doughnut for laddish laughs

SKIPPY DIES
Paul Murray
Hamish Hamilton €17

SKIPPY? WHO?

Skippy is the nickname of second-year pupil Daniel Juster at Seabrook, a classy private school run by the Paraclete Order in Paul Murray’s Booker-longlisted (but alas not shortlisted) Skippy Dies.

WHY SO?

Young Daniel has buck teeth that give him a lisp with that ‘tut tut’ noise that kangaroos make. He’s one of a cast of thousands in Seabrook.

Do tell.

Ruprecht Van Doren is a pudgy nerd convinced that he is in contact with extraterrestrials through string theory. Father Green (“Pere Vert” to an earlier generation, now just Cujo) terrorises the boys and is stalked by Satan . . .

ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Nope. Comic novel.

OH, IT’S FUNNY?

Very. Teenage-boy humour. One character, Dennis, asks an earnest and holy lay brother whether Jesus is, technically, a zombie, since he died and came back from the grave. Then there’s the sex.

SEX? I LIKE SEX.

In this case, it’s sweaty adolescent steaming, including the passions of the damaged Carl, who is gradually tumbling into a psychotic breakdown, and teacher “Howard the Coward”, who forms a fixated attachment to temporary sub-teacher Aurelie.

LORELEI?

Oddly, there are two sylphs, one called Aurelie (the teacher), the other called Lorelei, Lollipop for short.

ANY NORMAL WOMEN?

American Halley, who is living with Howard but he hasn’t “heh, heh, made an honest woman of her yet”, as the crazedwith- ambition assistant principal says.

WHAT ABOUT SKIPPY DYING?

Skippy falls prey to a doughnut-eating contest right at the beginning, then comes back to life in an extended flashback.

AND WHAT IS THIS SEABROOK?

It bears a resemblance to certain classy rugger schools. Think Ross O’Carroll-Kelly — plus drugs, haunts, aliens and history.

DRUGS?

Two of the boys terrorise the little lads into

bringing in Mummy’s pills, so they can sell

them to the sirens of St Bridget’s next door.

A GOOD READ?

Stupendously funny and irreverent — the

book everyone’s talking about.

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