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Beth Meacham, David Brin

Lucky Jim

Lucky Jim - David Lodge, Kingsley Amis I tend to be very unfair to comic (humorous) novels, I have this unreasonable demand that every page makes me laugh. Quite a tall order for the poor authors I think, but I can’t help it, so I generally avoid reading comic novels. I stumbled upon an audiobook of Lucky Jim on Youtube and thought I’d give it a go as it is often listed as one of the all-time great novels; my aversion to comic novels notwithstanding (freebies conquer all).

Lucky Jim is the story of James Dixon a history lecturer at a provincial English university. Dixon is not terribly good at his job, lacking interest in the subject he is teaching or academia itself. He is more interested in recruiting pretty students for his class. What he lacks in teaching skills he makes up for in sass. Throughout the novel Jim is preoccupied by Margaret, a fellow lecturer with emotional issues who he had a romantic relationship with. His attempt to break up with her triggers a hysteric reaction (possibly faux-hysteria as she is quite manipulative). He later meets and fall heads over heel in love with Christine Callaghan a more attractive girl with a good sense of humour, the only snag is she appears to be spoken for.

There is not much more than that to the plot apart from Jim getting into scrapes and his attempt to get out of them by his outlandish plans which sometime backfire on him with hilarious results. His favorite artifice is to put on accents to make fake telephone calls to create an alibi for himself or to get out of appointments.

Much of the humour of the book comes from the dialog and Jim’s unflattering observations of himself and other characters, and his unending sarcastic comments. Lucky Jim certainly did not make me laugh on every page but it is funny enough to get a pass from me. I feel there is not much substance to the book to treasure in the long term and the development of most characters tends to be rather perfunctory; especially female characters who are portrayed without much depth or agency. The only character the reader gets to know very well is Jim. An important aspect of the book’s humour is the satire of academic life from the faculty’s point of view, but I have too little knowledge or experience of such a life to appreciate this side of it.

Anyway, I cannot think of much to say about this book, it worth reading if you like comic novels where the laughs come mainly from witticisms rather than slapsticks (though there is a bit of that too). I much prefer it to that other humorous classic [b: Three Men in a Boat|4921|Three Men in a Boat|Jerome K. Jerome|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1392791656s/4921.jpg|4476508] which I found to be almost entirely mirth-free. As for Lucky Jim’s status as a classic I have no idea what that is about.