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Skippy Dies


Skippy Dies Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. What were your initial theories about why Skippy died?

2. Why cant Howard be happy with Halley? Is his obsession with Aurelie any different from

Skippys obsession with Lori?

3. Who are the heroes and villains in this novel? Is the bad behavior due to bad parenting, high testosterone levels, materialism, lack of belief in a difficult God? Other factors?

4. How does Seabrook compare with your high school? Which characters most closely resemble you and your circle of friends?

5. What do the novels priests have to say about the nature of the suffering they see at Seabrook? Do they defy or fit the stereotype of prep-school priests?

6. When Carls parents fight loudly (David versus jealous mother Lucia), what do you think theyre teaching him about love? How do they manage to stay so clueless about their son?

7. With his emphasis on marketing, branding, and public relations, does the Automator (Greg Costigan) reflect a typical trend in education today?

8. Would the novel have been as interesting if it had been set at the all-girls school St. Brigids? Are teenage girls as destructive as teenage boys?

9. Howard tells the Automator that Skippy earned his nickname because he has buck teeth, which cause him to make a kangaroo-like noise when he speaks. What makes Skippy an easy target? Are those who pick on him (including Father Green, badgering Skippy about obscenity in front of the whole French class) sadistic?

10. Google “M-theory.” What do the articles seem to say about the search for order in the universe, even before the Big Bang? Why is it an ideal theory for Ruprechts obsession, and for this novel? 

11. Part I closes with a blend of Professor Tamashis interview on the eleventh dimension and scenes from Skippys “seduction” by Lori. What does it take to give and get love in Skippy Dies? What do those scenes say about the reality that love creates? What does the novel say about the reality that drugs create?

12. Loris father, Gavin Wakeham, is an alumnus of Seabrook, and he is eager to share with Skippy his recollections of the faculty (which included a fondler, alumni who returned to their alma mater to teach when other opportunities didnt work out, and the perennially socially conscious Father Green). What impressions did the school make on Mr. Wakeham? What impressions will it leave on Skippys class?

13. Discuss Ruprechts quartet and the musical performance he links to communicating with the dead. Is it a step forward or backward for him, mentally?

14. Which came first: Carls drug use or his obsession with power and violent sex? When he became haunted by Dead Boy, did you think he was seeing a hallucination or a ghost? Reread his explosive closing scene. Is he a Demon, or the victim of one?

15. After Skippys funeral, his father tells Howard that Skippys great-grandfather served in Gallipoli. Does Skippys generation lack valor?

16. Howard and Father Green are appalled to see the Automator defend Coach Roche. Is Tom worthy of defense?

17. Ultimately, who is to blame for Skippys death?

18. Discuss part IV, “Afterland.” Is Gregs message a victory letter? Did he get everything he


Guide written by Amy Clements / The Wordshop, Inc.

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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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

Murray, Paul
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Kelman, Stephen
Racculia, Kate
Humorous fiction
Literature-A to Z
General Fiction
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
A<BR><BR>&#8220;Dazzling . . . If killing your pro
15 chapter openers and line art
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Narrative
Featured Titles » Literature
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 288 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 ,

This hilarious and heartwrenching novel follows eleven-year-old Harri Opuku, recently immigrated from Ghana to the rough housing projects of London, as he tries to navigate inner-city life. See what makes our good-hearted protagonist dope-fine, become acquainted with his bo-styles, and find yourself wanting this touching debut to last donkey hours.

"Synopsis" by ,

Lying in front of Harrison Opoku 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 like CSI, 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 English follows in the tradition of our great novels of friendship and adventure, as Harri finds wonder, mystery, and danger in his new, ever-expanding world.

"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).

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