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Kingsley Amis

The following is the best account of a hangover that has ever been put to page. It represents the first time anyone attempted to describe, in high literary style, those first few flustered moments of waking up the morning after a rowdy night, and it comes in the middle of Kingsley Amis’s hilarious book (and my favorite novel) Lucky Jim. To set the scene: Jim (Dixon) has been invited, along with his girlfriend, to stay at the country home of his boss (the head of his department at the University). The first night there, Jim winds up getting into the family’s supply of sherry and whiskey. Here is the next morning:


“Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. 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.”

London’s mayor Boris Johnson discusses the scene:


From the novel Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis.