Amis, Kingsley. Lucky Jim. New York: Penguin Classics, 1993.
Reason read: December is traditionally the month for final exams in secondary schools. Read in honor of those poor students slogging through their tests.
James Dixon is in a plum position to earn a decent spot as a lecturer in his college’s History Department. The only problem is he is falling in love with his boss’s son’s girlfriend.
You can’t help but laugh out loud during certain scenes in Lucky Jim. Amis has a way of painting the picture so clear you are in the room with the characters, whether you want to or not. The snobbery and pretentious nature of ambition on academia permeates the plot. The description of Dixon’s hangover, filled with images of excrement and death’s decay, had me smirking with remembrance. Been there, done that. I am not a smoker, but Dixon trying to ration his cigarettes gave me a chuckle as well, especially when he’s on the cigarette he should be enjoying a whole day into the future. Sadly, my accolades end there. I found almost everything else about Lucky Jim to be a bore.
Lines I liked, “The sight of her seemed an irresistible attack on his own habits, standards, and ambitions: something designed to put him in his place for good” (p 39) and “As soon as Dixon recognized the mental envelope containing this question he thrust it away from him unopened…” (p 60).
Author fact: rumor has it Amis was not a nice person. I’ve never met him so I can’t comment. He did win the Somerset Maugham Award for Lucky Jim. So there’s that.
Book trivia: One of my favorite illustrators, Edward Gorey, created a cover for an edition of Lucky Jim.
Playlist: Mozart, Richard Strauss, and “Onward Christian Soldiers,”
Nancy said: Pearl called Lucky Jim a classic.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Academia: the Joke” (p 3).