Most helpful positive review
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Jim Dixon Returns
on 8 February 2009
I've read LUCKY JIM, Amis's hilarious novel about Jim Dixon, a marginal associate professor at a second-rate university who is aggrieved by a pompous boss, has a funny scheming mind, and enjoys a drink or three. Well, EVERYDAY DRINKING suggests that the perspective of the fictitious Dixon might have come easily to Amis, since his voice in ED shows a sensitivity to pomposity (wine snobs), amusing party stratagems (how to serve inferior wines while presenting yourself as a wine expert), and great practical knowledge about the complete drinking experience, which ranges from stocking your bar to tending your hangover to periodic abstinence.
Reading ED raises this question: Why bother to buy a mere informative guide about wines and spirits when Amis gives you plenty of information but packaged with great common sense and a comic novelist's droll narrative skill. For example:
"General Principle 1: Up to a point (i.e. short of offering your guests one of those Balkan plonks marketed as wine...), go for quantity rather than quality. Most people would rather have two glasses of ordinary decent port than one of rare vintage. On the same reasoning, give them big drinks rather than small...Serious drinkers will be pleased and reassured, unserious ones will not be offended, and you will use up less chatting-time going round to recharge glasses."
At the same time, ED can be read as a cautionary text, in which sophisticated pleasure becomes excess. As Christopher Hitchens observes in the introduction: "...the world now knows what Kingsley's innumerable friends had come to realize, which is that booze got to him in the end, and robbed him of his wit and charm as well as his health." To this reader of LUCKY JIM, this also seemed the likely fate of Professor Dixon.
Nonetheless, ED is recommended for the drinking man (and woman) who seeks a specialist's informed pleasure in what is surely the world's primary (public) leisure activity.