Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
Rooted in its time but never 'dated'. Fantastically funny.
on 13 October 2014
I read this book in paperback thirty-odd years ago. Something clicked for me straightaway. Its period was already past before I was born, but I had no trouble at all projecting a piece of post-war 1950s England in my imagination. I read it again several times, laughing out loud at something in every chapter. How many novels actually have that effect ? For me, Kingsley Amis achieved that comic effect and that sheer ease of reading by a simple trick - using more or less plain English but crafting it brilliantly. Take one short incident, where Jim finds an old archery target in a corner of his arty-crafty professor's rambling house: 'What flaring imbecilities must it have witnessed ?' he wonders. And that's it, the plot moves on. No need for an account of any actual experiments with archery, no dwelling on the back story of another set of characters - this is a fairly snappy, single-point-of view story. One telling phrase, a verbal equivalent of rolling your eyes and snorting with disbelief, and the picture is complete; you can imagine not only those flaring imbecilities with bows and arrows, but almost smell the dust in the attic where they've been dumped.
Fighting his way out of a dusty attic could be a metaphor for what our hero Jim Dixon is doing in this story. He's stuck in world of limited options, not sure how to go further. A working-class grammar school boy (remember those ?) who has scraped a lecturing job in an un-named provincial university, cheekily sticking his nose into a world of drawing-room music recitals where the unavailable prettiest girl in the room and her artist boyfriend talk about chaps they know from the BBC. He gets his girl in the end of course, and a plum job too - the clue is in the title. But that doesn't spoil the plot one little bit. You'll be rooting for Lucky Jim all the way through, right to the hilarious end. How does he get what he wants ? A bit of cleverness; a bit of perseverance; but mostly he's just lucky, right at the moment when he seems to have screwed up everything.
A joy to have this stupidly funny book on my Kindle (even with a few typos) three decades after I first discovered it and sixty years after it was published.