by Kingsley Amis
Regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century, Lucky Jim remains as trenchant, withering, and eloquently misanthropic as when it first scandalized readers in 1954. This is the story of Jim Dixon, a hapless lecturer in medieval history at a provincial university who knows better than most that “there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.” Kingsley Amis’s scabrous debut leads the reader through a gallery of emphatically English bores, cranks, frauds, and neurotics with whom Dixon must contend in one way or another in order to hold on to his cushy academic perch and win the girl of his fancy.
(Shared read with Donald.)
I chose this novel from one of those lists of "best humorous fiction", possibly suggestions for fans of P.G. Wodehouse. Apparently, it's a classic. The funniest novel of the last century! (Or latter half of the last century, depending on who's making the list...)
Hm. Well, skimming some reviews, it's clear that I'm not the only one who feels slightly befuddled by its generally high ranking. Now, to be fair, there are amusing moments, but it's simply nowhere near as funny as you'd expect it to be, based on its sterling reputation.
Maybe the comparisons to Wodehouse threw me off... (Wodehouse is better, by many magnitudes. And he manages hilarity without being nasty or mean-spirited, which is even more impressive!)
Lucky Jim has its good points, but I don't think it's a masterpiece. I didn't love it, and it doesn't inspire me to read more from this author.
Oh, and the face-making gimmick got old. Remembering all the time I wasted trying to picture the latest weird face he was making, I'm considering docking the book another star... But no, I'll be generous and stay with three out of five. (Yes, it's a generous three-star rating. You don't realize how tempting it was to shrug and just skim the last half of the book.)