Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (5/5)

The back says: The hilarious send-up of academic life which helped to set the style of post-war fiction and placed one of today’s most popular novelists firmly on course for fame.

I say: Oh deary me, I seem to have, once again, fallen in love with yet another dead author. To say that this novel is brilliant would almost be an understatement.

I am in awe of it.

Lucky Jim, i.e. James Dixon is a half-hearted medieval history lecturer at a university, doing everything he can in order to secure his position after the term ends. However, in his attempts to impress the head of the department he winds up creating more trouble – and hilarity – than he is able to entangle. Oh, and there are a couple of love interests in here as well.

As there always are.

I think that Dixon may be one of my favourite anti-heroes to date; he has a habit of doing things without thinking them through, is extremely childish and petty, and he has this hilarious inner dialogue that sometimes erupts in the most absurd and witty comebacks.

I may very well be in love with him.
“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 had 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 secret police. He felt bad.” – p 61


I love Amis’ writing; his sense and use of language. Reading this was like being injected into Jim’s world/head and not wanting to let go for fear of missing the minutest of details. And Amis takes great care to make sure that we are aware of everything that is going on in Jim’s world/head. The one thing that I kept thinking when reading this was how much the style of writing reminded me of some of my favourite Russian authors; the detailed descriptions of things that seem irrelevant, the randomness of Jim’s actions, the slight satirical description of the university and the students. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but it was everything I look for in literature.

And did I mention that it was hilarious?

I was, literally, laughing out loud.

I am so smitten with Kingsley Amis right now that I want to run out and buy all of his work (and it’s at times like this that I curse my living in Sweden and not being able to just go out to a book store and buy all his work because they won’t have them, which is just as well cos Wiki lists 50 of them in a partial bibliography).



*This is my tenth entry in The Classic Bribe Challenge (which is an additional incentive for me to work on my 100 Classics Challenge that’s been going on for a tad too long).

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