Wednesday, August 30, 2006

NOVEL: Lucky Jim

I love to read. I am always adding books to a "Read-Me" list and I have trouble keeping up- I add books faster than I can read them. Anyway, I thought I should review the books I read on my blog. I don't want this to just be my bitching outlet- I want to educate and inspire the masses! (IE, my 0 readers)

Recently I read Lucky Jim by Kinglsey Amis, about a university history teacher named Jim Dixon who, the more I read, the more it seemed he was anything but lucky. It's set in Britain in the 40's, and like a few of my other favorite books (CS Lewis' science fiction trilogy), is played out against the backdrop of academia and the politics of position and social standing. Wrapped up around the story line of Jim trying to secure his tenure is the story of Jim falling in love with Christine, the girlfriend of His superior's son.

The book sounded vaguely interesting to me. I read a little blurb similar to the one above and for some reason wrote down the title and author, thinking I might like it. When I actually went to the library and all my first choices were not available, I remembered Lucky Jim, but upon reading the synopsis on the book, wondered to myself why I had wanted to read it at all. I borrowed it anyway (due to lack of other options), and I'm actually very glad I did.

This book made me laugh the whole way through. Amis created a character so despicable, so juvenile, so lackadaisical, so gauche, and yet somehow you can't help but develop an affection for him. You find yourself rooting for him to get away with his silly plots and lies and ridiculous fabrications. He's a character whom you cannot help but relate to- as he is misrepresenting, omitting, and outright lying for the sake of promotion, appearance, or simple amusement, his inward narrative is entirely honest and plain. You can't help but root for Jim because he is more than his foolishness; Amis has created a real character, a human being, in whom you must recognize the good and the bad. I must add that, though Jim is the central character, I felt that the other players could have been developed further, especially Christine, who remained one-dimensional and aloof throughout.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, although it wasn't a "can't-put-it-down-page-turner". It was absolutely hilarious (had me laughing out loud on the train, much to the discomfort of the other passengers), and a delight to read. Overall, a great choice for something in the light-hearted and funny category, and totally worth the read just for this fantastic character. I recommend!