In the first section of Skippy Dies
, Howard, a 28-year old teacher, plays with a new-fangled movie camera his girlfriend Halley has been given to review. The tiny camera comes equipped with "real-time image augmentation, meaning that your movies can be even more vivid than they are in real life." When Howard points the machine at Halley, he sees a rosy, saturated version of her. On screen, she seems more finely veined, more sympathetic, more desirable, more subtle. The "Intelligent Eye" technology in the movie camera is a fitting metaphor for Paul Murray's project in Skippy Dies
- he points his lens at the hormone-addled field of a Catholic boys' school in Dublin, and what we see is a hyper-real landscape full of beautiful, loud color. The central characters in the novel are fourteen year-old boys - feral, foul-mouthed, steeped in confusion - and yet they come across...
Beyond the Book
What is Robert Graves doing, you might ask, in a book about rowdy teen boys? His presence is pervasive from the very first chapter, when the mysterious and beautiful new geography teacher, Aurelie, talks to Howard the Coward about how to get his history students engaged with the First World War:
"You should read them Robert Graves," she says.
"He was in the trenches," she replies; then adds, after a pause, "He was also one of the great love poets."
Robert Graves (1895-1985), author of many works including I, Claudius
, is perhaps most famous for his memoir,...