Friday, January 28, 2011

"Skippy Dies"

On the recommendation of a friend, I am reading the book Skippy Dies.  I'm only about 60 pages in, so I can't tell you what it is really about yet, but this is an extraordinarily well-written book.  You've got to love a book that begins with, "Apart from being a genius, which he is, Ruprecht, does not have all that much going for him."  Love it!

Here's an extended excerpt to give you a sense of the fluidity of the prose:

You know, you spend your childhood watching TV, assuming that at some point in the future everything you see there will one day happen to you: that you will win a Formula One race, hop a train, foil a group of terrorists, tell someone 'Give me the gun', etc. Then you start secondary school, and suddenly everyone's asking you about your career plans and your long-term goals, and by goals they don't mean the kind you are planning to score in the PA Cup.  Gradually the awful truth dawns you: that Santa Claus was just the tip of the iceberg - that your future will not be the rollercoaster ride that you'd imagined, that the world occupied by your parents, the world of washing the dishes, going to the dentist, weekend trips to the DIY superstore to buy floor tiles, is actually largely what people mean when they speak of 'life.'  Now, with every day that passes, another door seems to close, the one marked PROFESSIONAL STUNTMAN, or FIGHT EVIL ROBOT, until as the weeks go by and the doors - GET BITTEN BY SNAKE, SAVE WORLD FROM ASTEROID, DISMANTLE BOMB WITH SECONDS TO SPARE - keep closing, you begin to hear the sound as a good thing, and start closing some yourself, even ones that didn't necessarily need to be closed...

At the onset of this process - looking down the barrel of this grim de-dreamification, which, even more than hyperactive glands and the discovery of girls, seems to be the actual stuff off growing up - to have Ruprecht telling you his crackpot theories comes to be oddly comforting.

"Imagine it," he says, gazing out the window while the rest of you huddle around the Nintendo, "everything that is, everything that has ever been - every grain of sand, every drop of water, every star, every planet, space and time themselves - all crammed into one dimensionless point where no rules or laws apply, waiting to fly out and become the future. When you think about it, the Big Bang's a bit like school, isn't it?"

"What?"

"Ruprecht, what the hell are you talking about?"

"Well, I mean to say, one day we'll all leave here and become scientists and bank clerks and diving instructors and hotel managers - the fabric of society, so to speak. But in the meantime, that fabric, that is to say, us, the future, is crowded into one tiny little point where none of the laws of society applies, viz., this school."

(p. 24-26)

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