Thursday, 30 August 2012

Lucky Jim

This is my edition.

I have had a soft spot for humorous prose ever since a good friend in Oz kindly handed me a copy of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, father of the esteemed Martin. Sitting on his patio one afternoon, sipping a rather tasty Zinfandel, I set my friend a desert island challenge: pick a book from his collection that he would keep over the rest. Considering the man has library in his abode, this was no mean feat. His recommendation opened a door to a new world of giggling at painful and complex human relationships, truculent side swipes at contemporary culture as well as showing to me for the first time, that books don’t have to be weighty to be a worthwhile read. This is not to say that that Lucky Jim is weak tea – far from it; it is a deliciously crafted piece of work that stands up to the ravages of time. This can’t be said for many novels.

Here are a few quotes whet your appetite:

“You'll find that marriage is a good short cut to the truth. No, not quite that. A way of doubling back to the truth. Another thing you'll find is that the years of illusion aren't those of adolescence, as the grown-ups try to tell us; they're the ones immediately after it, say the middle twenties, the false maturity if you like, when you first get thoroughly embroiled in things and lose your head. Your age, by the way, Jim. That's when you first realize that sex is important to other people besides yourself. A discovery like that can't help knocking you off balance for a time.”

“... all his faces were designed to express rage or loathing. Now that something had happened which really deserved a face, he had none to celebrate it with. As a kind of token, he made his Sex Life in Ancient Rome face.”
“How wrong people always were when they said: 'It's better to know the worst than go on not knowing either way.' No; they had it exactly the wrong way round. Tell me the truth, doctor, I'd sooner know. But only if the truth is what I want to hear.”

And here is the best hangover description in literally history:
“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 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.”

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