Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Favorite Book of the Fall is Out this Week!

And, no it is not Freedom by Jonathan Franzen but good guess. Nothing against his new book, a fellow Boswellian, Conrad really liked it and had this to say:

No one writes about dysfunctional families and individuals better than Jonathan Franzen. The struggle to achieve personal independence and identity-battling the constraints of family, friends, lovers, society, and the unrealistic expectations (both our own and other people's for us) that map our lives- is explored with hilarious results in this splendid new novel. If you liked The Corrections, you'll love this!--Conrad

While Franzen blew me away with all the frenzy and media surrounding it for yesterday's release, I was eagerly anticipating Paul Murray's Skippy Dies, which happened to come out on the same day as Franzen.

Skippy Dies starts out a bit depressing, because, well, Skippy Dies by page four. Then, Paul Murray hits the rewind button on his novel and starts the story at the beginning of a school year at Seabrook College and follows the many characters that have a hand in leading to Skippy's demise. The story revolves around Skippy and his friends, as they move through the school year, attempting to use String Theory to open up portals or to evade the local bully Carl. The conversations these kids have are often quite hilarious, and partly because I remember having pointless conversations myself back in high school. Paul Murray nails these conversations with ease, as if he is overhearing them as he writes, fluidly following the disjointed logic of youth. They have nicknames for their teachers, for instance their history teacher is Howard the Coward. Which Howard assumes is just because it rhymes, but secretly he knows that he is hiding out from real life and other secrets that tie him to Seabrook College.

Skippy Dies has many, many plot threads running throughout, and I leave you to discover them. Let's just say that the book is funny, sad, exhilarating, and exhausting all at the same time. It is a journey you will never regret, full of shocks and surprises. And, did I mention that it was long listed for the Man Booker Prize?

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