I’ll confess this right now: I bought Skippy Dies for the cover. I read the blurbs too, and it sounded like a good book and justified the purchase. But what really sold me on this book, above all the other books I saw while popping in and out of every bookstore I passed in Ireland, was the cover. It’s gorgeous. It’s also, conveniently, a great book. It’s a sprawling tragi-comedy. It might be a little Dickens-esque. I think what I loved above all were the characters – it has a very large cast of them, and it changes point of view frequently. Even the terribly flawed characters are painted with love. I recommend this book for when you’re in the mood for a great big story full of life and sorrow and humor – it will hit the spot. Plus, you’ll be able to gaze at its beautiful cover, a nice bonus.
Here is my favorite passage from the novel:
He is thinking about asymmetry. This is a world, he is thinking, where you can lie in bed, listening to a song as you dream about someone you love, and your feelings and the music will resonate so powerfully and completely that it seems impossible that the beloved, whoever and whatever he or she might be, should not know, should not pick up this signal as it pulsates from your heart, as if you and the music and the love and the whole universe have merged into one force that can be channelled out into the darkness to bring them this message. But in actuality, not only will he or she not know, there is nothing to stop that other person from lying on his or her bed at the exact same moment listening to the exact same song and thinking about someone else entirely – from aiming those identical feelings in some completely opposite direction, at some totally other person, who may in turn be lying in the dark thinking of another person still, a fourth, who is thinking of a fifth, and so on, and so on; so that rather than a universe of neatly reciprocating pairs, love and love-returned fluttering through space nicely and symmetrically like so many pairs of butterfly wings, instead we get chains of yearning, which sprawl and meander and culminate in an infinite number of dead ends. (page 300)