PositiveBookforumAt the heart of Danielle Dutton\'s Sprawl is a lavish, endless list of domestic objects: water pitchers, sweaters, cakes on cake stands, petunias in a terra-cotta pot. Borrowing techniques from both fiction, poetry, and visual art (particularly photography), the book not only infuses each object, be it a juice glass or a paper napkin, with a Vermeeresque glow but arranges it into part of a verbal still life. The result? A fresh take on suburbia, one of reverence and skepticism.
PositiveBookforumSet in Ireland at the Seabrook Catholic School for Boys, the book features a cast of fourteen-year-olds who have populated classrooms for centuries. And yet as rendered by Murray's skillful, compassionate prose, each of these characters emerges as an actual boy—sympathetic at times, contemptible at others, funny, terrifying, loving, and real to the reader … Interestingly enough, the antics of other characters often overshadow Skippy all together, which perhaps is the point of the book—that unremarkable children are overshadowed by the smartest or dumbest or funniest or meanest or ugliest or most handsome, sometimes even overshadowed out of existence. Skippy Dies is 600 pages, and the supposedly driving question of the first 400 pages seems to be: Who killed Skippy?
RaveO: The Oprah MagazinePrepare yourself: This spellbinding, feverish novel sucks you in to the struggle of sensitive, brilliant, young Jude as he tries to survive his never-discussed childhood. That childhood—slowly, hauntingly revealed to the reader over hundreds of pages in a feat of writing that mimics how memory works in those who try to suppress it—turns out to be one long, savage nightmare of abuse. How Jude tries to create a life in spite of it, not just succeeding professionally as an attorney, but also attempting to develop trust and intimacy with a group of friends is one of the most compassionate, moving stories of our time. Yes, you\'ll feel for Jude and the horrors he endured. But you will also be transformed by the efforts of his ad hoc family of roommates, professors, neighbors and co-workers who never give up on loving him, even when \'proof of your friendship lay in ... turning and walking away when the door was shut in your face instead of trying to force it open again.\' An exquisitely written, complex triumph.