As part of our Best Books of 2010 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
I'm not usually one to find long books daunting, but the nearly 700 pages of Skippy Dies did give me pause. Luckily, it's also published in three separate, slim volumes, perfect bait for commitment-phobic readers. When I received the first section as part of an Indiespensable mailing, I was hooked after just 50 pages.
In his second novel, which was a finalist for the 2010 Booker Prize, Irish novelist Paul Murray pinpoints the adolescent mindset, the moment in time where a person might follow up a discussion of parallel dimensions with the comment, "I wish I was in the 11th dimension. With some porn." The teens who haunt the halls of Seabrook College in Dublin and their friends—shy video-game geeks like Skippy; drug dealers like his nemesis, Carl; geniuses like his best friend, Rupert; beautiful queen bees like the girl of his dreams, Lori—are perfectly rendered, but so too are the adults who surround them. As the pages speed by, drawing closer to the death portrayed in the novel's prologue, readers will be eager for the resolution while simultaneously hoping the worst won't happen to a character they've come to care about. Intelligent, tender, witty and wise, Skippy Dies is a novel you won't soon forget.
Read our full review of Skippy Dies.