Thursday, 1 October 2015

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Years ago I started reading Lucky Jim then put it down and somehow forgot to pick it up again. That happens in a reading life and is not necessarily a signal but having gone on with it recently I found myself not getting on with it. I could have put it down at any point of the story without a pang as a tale of everyday pissartistry, wistful and full of wonder as to why it is so lauded. The internet has open sesame search words. It’s no use trying ‘Lucky Jim by Amis reviews’ as they are all enthusiastic; hilarious satire, savage analysis that sort of thing. No, the magic word is overrated. Yes, I’m a Dissenter and we have a small but select Church that is sparing of incense. In the work of Amis the Elder that I’ve read it’s not as bad as The Anti-Death League nor as good as The Old Devils.

A partial reason why it fails for me is that it has only fleeting moments where Dixon is about to realize that he is a pathetic creature. Everybody else is that but not him. That’s not lucky. Satire has to fill the world; all of it has to be subverted. No one is saved and that includes you Jim lad. By contrast the Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend are genuinely satiric and witty. Should I reach out to my left and, take The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole and pick a page, any page, I might be gone for some time.

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