Confession: I never got into Lucky Jim like I expected to.
This was a novel I looked forward to since I first learned its premise. Lucky Jim is a short satirical novel. But despite its brevity, I took over a month to read it.
I just couldn’t ever “get into” Lucky Jim. I’d sit down to read and lose interest after about 10 pages. For a 250 page novel, that’s a lot of short reading spurts, which makes it difficult to stay in tune to a novel and its story.
But, finally, I finished the novel, and I report back to you today. Lucky Jim was mildly entertaining, somewhat dry, and somewhat reminiscent of Anthony Powell’s writing style (you might remember him from the dreadful A Dance To The Music of Time).
I’ll give it a C. Read more
I keep going back to this Paris Review interview with Kingsley Amis, just because it has so many good nuggets of wisdom and insight. And, yes, I just used the word “nugget.” Be thankful I didn’t say “moist nugget.”
Anyway, here’s what Amis has to say about writing humor: Read more
Take it away, Lucky Jim.
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth has been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by a secret police. He felt bad.
How brilliant is that?
The description of his mouth might be my favorite part. But I also love the close. “He felt bad.” Just a perfect, perfect description.
Lucky Jim is taking me longer than I’d like, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the novel. I’m enjoying it. This season is a little busier so I’m just not getting as much reading done as I want to.
Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.
Lucky Jim is a novel full of beautiful awkwardness.
Amis’s style and tone remind me of Anthony Powell’s writing in A Dance To The Music Of Time.
You might recall I absolutely loathed that novel—it’s last in my rankings. But though Lucky Jim reminds me of Dance in some regards, it’s a much more humorous, entertaining, developed novel—at least to this point.
But back to the awkwardness. I can think of nothing more awkward than being invited to a dinner party full of college history professors and being asked to gather around a piano and sing together. For fun.
That’s exactly what happens to Jim Dixon. His mentor, Professor Welsh, invites him over for a party and some impromptu singing breaks out. Read more
How often can you say a book changed your life?
This outstanding article by Joseph Schuster at The Millions illustrates how Lucky Jim changed his life. Lucky Jim? The story of a sad, beaten-up, self-deprecating assistant professor at a no-name college in England? Yep. Lucky Jim.
That just goes to show—when it comes to literary tastes, we all appreciate different flavors.
Schuster talks about his annual tradition of reading Lucky Jim in the fall—and what (or if) he expects to learn something from each reading. Many of you who do the same with a favorite novel will probably relate: Read more