There was a time when I baulked at the sight of the larger novel. It's easy to become fixated with how many pages there are in a book, and how many you still have to go, particularly when the novel feels more worthy than engaging. I schlepped slowly through Haruki Murakami's 600-odd page The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles last year, assuring myself that it would be worth finishing, and that if I could even cover as much as twenty pages in a day then I would have the thing finished within a month.
Skippy Dies, the second novel by Irish author Paul Murray, did not feel that way. It's over 660 pages long, but during a few quiet days in Donegal I raced through it, devoting sittings of up to four hours at a time to it.
What this means is that, though Murray has all manner of important things to say about Irish society and about teenagers today, he manages to do so without ever becoming hectoring or shrill. Skippy Dies is an epic, in the very best sense of the word, and is well worth checking out.