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Skippy Dies

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Skippy Dies Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Lying in front of Harrison Opuku is a body, the body of one of his classmates, a boy known for his crazy basketball skills, who seems to have been murdered for his dinner. Armed with a pair of camouflage binoculars and detective techniques absorbed from television shows likeCSI,Harri and his best friend, Dean, plot to bring the perpetrator to justice. They gather evidenceand#8212;fingerprints lifted from windows with tape, a wallet stained with bloodand#8212;and lay traps to flush out the murderer. But nothing can prepare them for what happens when a criminal feels you closing in on him. Recently emigrated from Ghana with his sister and mother to Londonand#8217;s enormous housing projects, Harri is pure curiosity and ebullienceand#8212;obsessed with gummy candy, a friend to the pigeon who visits his balcony, quite possibly the fastest runner in his school, and clearly also fast on the trail of a murderer. Told in Harri's infectious voice and multicultural slang,Pigeon Englishfollows in the tradition of our great novels of friendship and adventure, as Harri finds wonder, mystery, and danger in his new, ever-expanding world.

"Rich with lingo, energy, and occasional terror,Pigeon Englishis a stark and funny look at life in Londonand#8217;s rough housing projects. After another hutious gangland chooking, eleven-year-old Harri is on the case, tracking the murderer for donkey hours while impressing Poppy with his bo-styles. A compelling anatomy of our inner cities, Stephen Kelmanand#8217;s debut novel navigates the hectic, modern world while coping with its most violent accompaniments." and#8212;Tony Dand#8217;Souza, author ofWhitemanand the forthcomingMule

"Simultaneously accurate and fantastical, this boyand#8217;s love letter to the world made me laugh and tremble all the way through.Pigeon Englishis a triumph." and#8212;Emma Donoghue, author ofRoom(on the current Booker longlist) and#160; "Pigeon Englishis a powerful and impressive novel. Harri is an intelligent child with irresistible charm.and#160;His exuberance and natural resilience transcend his desolate surroundings and offer the reader an unexpected hope and belief in the nobility of the human spirit.and#160;Kelman knows the world of boysand#8212;their language, their humour, their thoughtsand#8212;and Harriand#8217;s voice is dazzlingly authentic.and#160;Utterly convincing and deeply moving, this is a book that we should all read if we want to understand the ugly world that we have somehow managed to create on the edges of society. I wasnand#8217;t sure if I would have the courage to read it, but I was won over within the first few pages." and#8212;Clare Morrall, author of the Booker-shortlistedand#160;Astonishing Splashes of Colourand#160;andThe Man Who Disappeared

MARCH

You could see the blood. It was darker than you thought.

It was all on the ground outside Chicken Joeand#8217;s. It just felt

crazy.

and#160;Jordan: and#8216;Iand#8217;ll give you a million quid if you touch it.and#8217;

and#160;Me: and#8216;You donand#8217;t have a million.and#8217;

and#160;Jordan: and#8216;One quid then.and#8217;

and#160;You wanted to touch it but you couldnand#8217;t get close

enough. There was a line in the way:

POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS

and#160;If you cross the line youand#8217;ll turn to dust.

and#160;We werenand#8217;t allowed to talk to the policeman, he had

to concentrate for if the killer came back. I could see

the chains hanging from his belt but I couldnand#8217;t see the

gun.

and#160;The dead boyand#8217;s mamma was guarding the blood. She

wanted it to stay, you could tell. The rain wanted to come

and wash the blood away but she wouldnand#8217;t let it. She

wasnand#8217;t even crying, she was just stiff and fierce like it was

her job to scare the rain back up into the sky. A pigeon was

looking for his chop. He walked right in the blood. He was

even sad as well, you could tell where his eyes were all pink

and dead.

* * *

The flowers were already bent. There were pictures of the

dead boy wearing his school uniform. His jumper was

green.

and#160;My jumperand#8217;s blue. My uniformand#8217;s better. The only bad

thing about it is the tie, itand#8217;s too scratchy. I hate it when

theyand#8217;re scratchy like that.

and#160;There were bottles of beer instead of candles and the

dead boyand#8217;s friends wrote messages to him. They all said he

was a great friend. Some of the spelling was wrong but I

didnand#8217;t mind. His football boots were on the railings tied up

by their laces. They were nearly new Nikes, the studs were

proper metal and everything.

and#160;Jordan: and#8216;Shall I tand#8217;ief them? He donand#8217;t need and#8217;em no more.and#8217;

and#160;I just pretended I didnand#8217;t hear him. Jordan would never

really steal them, they were a million times too big. They

looked too empty just hanging there. I wanted to wear

them but theyand#8217;d never fit.

Me and the dead boy were only half friends, I didnand#8217;t see

him very much because he was older and he didnand#8217;t go

to my school. He could ride his bike with no hands and

you never even wanted him to fall off. I said a prayer

for him inside my head. It just said sorry. Thatand#8217;s all I

could remember. I pretended like if I kept looking hard

enough I could make the blood move and go back in the

shape of a boy. I could bring him back alive that way. It

happened before, where I used to live there was a chief

who brought his son back like that. It was a long time

ago, before I was born. Asweh, it was a miracle. It didnand#8217;t

work this time.

and#160;I gave him my bouncy ball. I donand#8217;t need it anymore, Iand#8217;ve

got M ve more under my bed. Jordan only gave him a pebble

he found on the floor.

and#160;Me: and#8216;That doesnand#8217;t count. It has to be something that

belonged to you.and#8217;

and#160;Jordan: and#8216;I ainand#8217;t got nothing. I didnand#8217;t know we had to

bring a present.and#8217;

and#160;I gave Jordan a strawberry Chewit to give to the dead

boy, then I showed him how to make a cross. Both the two

of us made a cross. We were very quiet. It even felt important.

We ran all the way home. I beat Jordan easily. I can

beat everybody, Iand#8217;m the fastest in Year 7. I just wanted to

get away before the dying caught us.

The buildings are all mighty around here. My tower is

as high as the lighthouse at Jamestown. There are three

towers all in a row: Luxembourg House, Stockholm House

and Copenhagen House. I live in Copenhagen House. My

flat is on floor 9 out of 14. Itand#8217;s not even hutious, I can look

from the window now and my belly doesnand#8217;t even turn over.

I love going in the lift, itand#8217;s brutal, especially when youand#8217;re

the only one in there. Then you could be a spirit or a spy.

You even forget the pissy smell because youand#8217;re going so

fast.

and#160;Itand#8217;s proper windy at the bottom like a whirlpool. If you

stand at the bottom where the tower meets the ground and

put your arms out, you can pretend like youand#8217;re a bird. You

can feel the wind try to pick you up, itand#8217;s nearly like flying.

and#160;Me: and#8216;Hold your arms out wider!and#8217;

and#160;Jordan: and#8216;Theyand#8217;re as wide as I can get and#8217;em! This is so gay,

Iand#8217;m not doing it no more!and#8217;

and#160;Me: and#8216;Itand#8217;s not gay, itand#8217;s brilliant!and#8217;

and#160;Asweh, itand#8217;s the best way to feel alive. You only donand#8217;t

want the wind to pick you up, because you donand#8217;t know

where it will drop you. It might drop you in the bushes or

the sea.

In England thereand#8217;s a hell of different words for everything.

Itand#8217;s for if you forget one, thereand#8217;s always another one left

over. Itand#8217;s very helpful. Gay and dumb and lame mean all

the same. Piss and slash and tinkle mean all the same (the

same as greet the chief). Thereand#8217;s a million words for a bulla.

When I came to my new school, do you know whatand#8217;s the

first thing Connor Green said to me?

and#160;Connor Green: and#8216;Have you got happiness?and#8217;

and#160;Me: and#8216;Yes.and#8217;

and#160;Connor Green: and#8216;Are you sure youand#8217;ve got happiness?and#8217;

and#160;Me: and#8216;Yes.and#8217;

and#160;Connor Green: and#8216;But are you really sure?and#8217;

and#160;Me: and#8216;I think so.and#8217;

and#160;He kept asking me if I had happiness. He wouldnand#8217;t stop.

In the end it just vexed me. Then I wasnand#8217;t sure. Connor

Green was laughing, I didnand#8217;t even know why. Then Manik

told me it was a trick.

and#160;Manik: and#8216;Heand#8217;s not asking if youand#8217;ve got happiness, heand#8217;s

asking if youand#8217;ve got a penis. He says it to everyone. Itand#8217;s just

a trick.and#8217;

and#160;It only sounds like happiness but really it means a penis.

and#160;Ha-penis.

and#160;Connor Green: and#8216;Got ya! Hook, line and sinker!and#8217;

and#160;Connor Green is always making tricks. Heand#8217;s just a confusionist.

Thatand#8217;s the first thing you learn about him. At least

I didnand#8217;t lose. I do have a penis. The trick doesnand#8217;t work if

itand#8217;s true.

Some people use their balconies for hanging washing

or growing plants. I only use mine for watching the

helicopters. Itand#8217;s a bit dizzy. You canand#8217;t stay out there for

more than one minute or youand#8217;ll turn into an icicle. I

saw X-Fire painting his name on the wall of Stockholm

House. He didnand#8217;t know I could see him. He was proper

quick and the words still came out dope-fine. I want to

write my own name that big but the paint in a can is too

dangerous, if you get it on yourself it never washes off,

even forever.

and#160;The baby trees are in a cage. They put a cage around the

tree to stop you stealing it. Asweh, itand#8217;s very crazy. Whoand#8217;d

steal a tree anyway? Whoand#8217;d chook a boy just to get his

Chicken Joeand#8217;s?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 16 comments:

Elizabeth L, May 26, 2011 (view all comments by Elizabeth L)
At its most basic, this novel chronicles the declension (and, unfortunate, sacralization) of an all-boys Irish (obviously Catholic) boarding school in a contemporary time and place where even suggesting the existence of such a space seems anachronistic. But, at its most epic, this novel is much more. It's a parable of science versus religion, traditional versus contemporary. In a somewhat predictable way (particularly in an Irish setting) it is the twinned virtues--love and humor--that transcend the otherwise insurmountable dichotomies the book sets into play, emerging triumphantly from the embers of all else that has been destroyed. Beyond such abstractions (and I have no idea why I'm reviewing a book that is in many ways intensely realistic in such grandiose and vague terms), the book is a page-turner. It envelops the reader wholly into the glory that is existence and the agony that inevitably travels alongside it. It makes you remember exactly the toils and pleasures of adolescence and simultaneously question just how far you've actually traveled beyond it. To raise one final dichotomy, from the earliest pages in the novel (wherein Skippy, as the title announces, dies), this is a novel about life.
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(2 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
simmonsr, May 14, 2011 (view all comments by simmonsr)
I read this because it was one the Tournament of Books choices, and I am happy to say that I am glad for it. The book is a "coming of age" novel that takes place in an all boys private school, and follows the foibles of a cast of young men at the "voice cracking" stage of life, along with some adult characters that are well fleshed out. Full of poignant passages and lovely writing. Once the end came I found myself wanting to know more of what awaits in the future for this cast of characters.
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(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Matthew Yasuoka, March 15, 2011 (view all comments by Matthew Yasuoka)
This book is in a word amazing. It is so beautiful, magnificent, and lovely, and the characters are so memorable and relatable that upon finishing it I had the strongest desire to turn back to page one and start again.
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(9 of 15 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780865479432
Author:
Murray, Paul
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Author:
Kelman, Stephen
Author:
Racculia, Kate
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Humorous fiction
Subject:
Adolescence
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20140513
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
A<BR><BR>&#8220;Dazzling . . . If killing your pro
Language:
English
Illustrations:
15 chapter openers and line art
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Narrative
Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2011
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Skippy Dies Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Faber & Faber - English 9780865479432 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Talk about a spoiler! Yes, Skippy dies. (Or maybe he doesn't. I'll never tell.) But the fact of his death isn't nearly as important as the why, which Paul Murray's Dublin-set novel explores with a dizzying mix of hilarity and tragedy that's never less than thrilling.

"Review" by , "At 672 pages, this is an extremely ambitious and complex novel, filled with parallels, with sometimes recondite references to Irish folklore, with quantum physics, and with much more. Hilarious, haunting, and heartbreaking, it is inarguably among the most memorable novels of the year to date."
"Review" by , "The novel is a triumph....Brimful of wit, narrative energy and a real poetry and vision."
"Review" by , "[A] splendid, sardonic magnum opus....Long and impossibly involved, but also beautifully written, with much truth and not a wasted word. A superb imagining of a strange world — that of pimply-faced kids, that is."
"Review" by , "One of the most enjoyable, funny and moving reads of this young new year."
"Review" by , "An utterly engrossing read."
"Review" by , "Noisy, hilarious, tragic, and endlessly inventive...Murray's writing is just plain brilliant."
"Review" by , "A blast of a book."
"Synopsis" by , Why does Skippy, a 14-year-old boy at Dublin's venerable Seabrook College, end up dead on the floor of the local doughnut shop? Why Skippy dies and what happens next unravels a mystery that links the boys of Seabrook College to their parents and teachers in ways nobody could have imagined.
"Synopsis" by , "For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel." &#8212;Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbras 24-Hour Bookstore A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from a hotel room that was the site of a famous murder/suicide fifteen years earlier, in a whip-smart novel sparkling with the dark and giddy pop culture pleasures of The Shining, Agatha Christie, and Glee
"Synopsis" by ,
"For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel." &#8212;Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbras 24-Hour Bookstore
Fifteen years ago, a murder/suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it. Now hundreds of high school musicians, including quiet bassoonist Rabbit Hatmaker and his brassy diva twin, Alice, have gathered in its cavernous, crumbling halls for the annual Statewide festival; the grown-up bridesmaid has returned to face her demons; and a snowstorm is forecast that will trap everyone on the grounds. Then one of the orchestras stars disappears&#8212;from room 712. Is it a prank, or has murder struck the Bellweather once again?

The search for answers entwines a hilariously eccentric cast of characters&#8212;conductors and caretakers, failures and stars, teenagers on the verge and adults trapped in memories. For everyone has come to the Bellweather with a secret, and everyone is haunted.

Full of knowing nods to the shivery pleasures of suspense and the transporting power of music, this is a wholly winning new novel from a writer lauded as “charming” (Los Angeles Times), “witty” (O, The Oprah Magazine), and “whimsical” (People).

"Synopsis" by ,

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

Could it have something to do with his friend Ruprecht Van Doren, an overweight genius who is determined to open a portal into a parallel universe using ten-dimensional string theory?

Could it involve Carl, the teenage drug dealer and borderline psychotic who is Skippys rival in love?

Or could “the Automator”&#8212;the ruthless, smooth-talking headmaster intent on modernizing the school&#8212;have something to hide?

Why Skippy dies and what happens next is the subject of this dazzling and uproarious novel, unraveling a mystery that links the boys of Seabrook College to their parents and teachers in ways nobody could have imagined. With a cast of characters that ranges from hip-hop-loving fourteen-year-old Eoin “MC Sexecutioner” Flynn to basketball playing midget Philip Kilfether, packed with questions and answers on everything from Ritalin, to M-theory, to bungee jumping, to the hidden meaning of the poetry of Robert Frost, Skippy Dies is a heartfelt, hilarious portrait of the pain, joy, and occasional beauty of adolescence, and a tragic depiction of a world always happy to sacrifice its weakest members. As the twenty-first century enters its teenage years, this is a breathtaking novel from a young writer who will come to define his generation.

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