Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Paul Murray at Word

By Meredith Deliso

This writer is deadly funny.

Paul Murray has equally charmed and haunted readers with his praised comic novel, “Skippy Dies,” set at a Dublin boys’ school. 

That title’s no spoiler alert; within five pages of the Irish novelist’s wildly entertaining book, which was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, Daniel “Skippy” Juster, a shy 14-year-old student, meets his tragicomic demise on the floor of a doughnut shop.

From there, Murray flashes back to the preceding months, from the perspective of the school’s hormone-fueled boys, apathetic teachers, female love interests, and the nerdy, quantum physics-loving Ruprecht Van Doren, whose own life is upended by the death of his friend and roommate.

In addition to its plethora of gay jokes, “Skippy Dies” is deeper and poignant than any book about teenage boys has the right to be — a fact the author himself is well aware of.

“My brain seems to find it quite natural to slip from one register to the other,” says Murray, who crosses the pond to read at Greenpoint’s Word Bookshop on Dec. 5. “I tried to make sure that although the opening chapters are largely comic, the tragic elements are visible to some degree, too.” 

Adds Edward Champion of the Bat Segundo Show, who'll also be interviewing Murray at the reading: "Comic novels often get a bad rap.  If something is funny or entertaining, people often consider it lesser. What I'm hoping the interview will do is get people to understand the hard work and sheer talent that goes into a book as extraordinary as 'Skippy Dies.'" 

Paul Murray at Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383-0096], Dec. 5 at 7 pm. Free. For info, visit


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