Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.
Originally, Skud’s characters appeared in Foon’s one-act play, War,
published by Blizzard in 1995. In his acknowledgements, Foon writes that
the “characters kept haunting me. I wanted to give them a larger
canvas, to dig deeper into their actions, to spend more time with
them.” Skud’s dramatic cover art plus the cryptic title will
initially attract older adolescent readers, especially males, but it is
the actions and character development of the book’s four main
“actors” that will hold them.
Tommy, an aspiring fighter pilot, Brad, a wannabe NHLer, and Andy, a
budding movie actor, are 17-year-olds who attend the same Vancouver high
school along with Shane, an older gangbanger who is trying to escape
gang life. In turn, each “actor,” via labelled sections, delivers
his lines, revealing to readers both his thoughts and the actions going
on around him. The initiating incident is Tommy’s being dumped by
Sheila. Consumed by jealousy, Tommy, the most popular guy in school, is
easily manipulated by Brad into fighting with Andy, the guy who Tommy
erroneously believes is Sheila’s new romantic interest. Tommy, with
Brad’s assistance, easily physically bests Andy, but the beating is
halted by the notorious Shane who, for initially unknown reasons,
Later, steroid-enhanced Brad, who had played a rough brand of hockey at
his overbearing father’s insistence, finds himself demoted from the
team’s first to fourth line, his place taken by a girl, when the
league favours finesse over physicality. An angry Brad further
manipulates Tommy into believing that a willing Sheila had sex with him.
Enraged, Tommy confronts and then rapes Sheila, an action leading to
Tommy’s being jailed. Ironically, “losers” Andy and Shane achieve
their goals, but perhaps not in the ways they expected.
Skud powerfully explores the socialization of North American males as
well as the role of violence in defining masculinity. Highly