Skud by Dennis Foon

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Category: Literature

Date Submitted: 05/17/2012 12:29 PM

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An instant page-turner, Skud launches itself like a testosterone missile, not letting up until it lands on the very last page. We follow the trajectory of four emotionally misshapen boys in a story expertly blocked for maximum tension by award-winning Vancouver playwright and dramatist Dennis Foon.

When we meet Tom, he’s watching his girlfriend kissing an actor (Andy) for a scene. “This is what my eyes burn into my brain,” he says, telegraphing palpable violence beneath a perfectly controlled veneer. Tom has pulled off the teen dream trifecta of being a top cadet, top student, and the coolest guy in the school. But Tom is walking on a knife edge, living only for his girl and the chance to become a fighter pilot. Brad, a steroid-gulping enforcer, on and off the ice, is Tom’s best friend. Cynical and self-serving, Brad is disarmingly devoted to his vicious father’s obsession for him to make it into the NHL. Andy is the least damaged of our boys. A sensitive actor, Andy nonetheless is as driven by raw ambition as are the other two. Finally there’s Shane, Andy’s dangerous guardian. Brutalized and brutalizer, he is feared as mutant evil. We spend the least amount of time with Shane, which means he’s the most underdeveloped character. On occasion, his storyline feels more like a plot device rather than fully integrated. Yet, we care about each of them – we care about what they do for and to each other; we care about whether Flight School, Junior A, movies, or indeed survival, is in their cards.

There is a compelling immediacy to these first-person accounts. The dialogue, both spoken and interior, is alternately wry and elegantly visceral. Most teens are actors, acquiring and shedding personas until they find one that fits. Those teens will be captivated by these four boys, and their struggles on a condemned stage.