So now’s the time when I take a look back at the last several novels I’ve read and explain to you why I ranked them as I did.
Here’s how books 76 through 80 break down: Read more
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.
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