Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Book Review

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (1954)

I first read Lucky Jim in 1967 in a sophomore English class. It was the first and only assigned reading that caused me to laugh out loud. The story centers on Jim Dixon, a lecturer at a regional British university shortly after World War II who knows he is out of place but feels he has no other options. So he puts up with an insufferably pompous professor and his equally insufferable wife and son as well as the jilted Margaret who has somehow claimed him on the rebound. I won't go into details--I can't really do the story justice--but I will say that 40 years later I still laughed out loud.

One detail I will quote at length is Dixon's hangover early in the story:
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 eyballs again. A dusty thuddng 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.
Who wouldn't?



Blogger cile said...

Ha! I laughed out loud too! Oh how I remember those hangovers. Very adroitly described here!

1:36 PM  

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