Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Lucky Jim was heartily recommended to me, and not just for its famous description of a terrible hangover. I must confess that having tried reading Kingsley Amis at school and not having got very far with him, I took a little persuading, but it was a very good recommendation...

History lecturer James Dixon is stuck at the house of his Professor for an interminable weekend of madrigals and recorder recitals when he decides to slope off to the pub. On his return he contrives to sink the best part of a bottle of port in one go; (The bottle had been about three-quarters full when he started, and was about three-quarters empty when he stopped) before making his way upstairs. Getting ready for bed, things start to go horribly wrong:

Suddenly feeling worse, he heaved a shuddering sigh. Someone seemed to have leapt nimbly up behind him and encased him in a kind of diving-suit made of invisible cotton-wool.

Worse is to come the next day:

He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.

Quite frankly, I'm not surprised...

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