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Here's Luck (Prion Humour Classics) Hardcover – April 1, 2001
From Publishers Weekly
First published in 1930, this reissue of what has been hailed as "Australia's funniest book" will leave modern American readers asking, "Says who?" Lower's pursuit of irony and folly is tireless. But with a trifling plot line used primarily as a vehicle for the jokes the comedy soon grows tiresome. So do the cantankerous characters who inhabit nondescript settings and whose emotional states are frequently reduced to adverbial phrases. Residing in a seedy Sydney suburb, Jack Gudgeon is a middle-aged, unemployed male chauvinist and part-time drunk whose wife leaves him and their 19-year-old son, Stanley. Under his father's supervision, Stanley is introduced to drinking straight whiskey from a mug, nights in the slammer and his father's views on the perils of loving women ("I have noticed this in women, that they positively glory in displaying a long-suffering meekness in the face of imagined wrongs. They do it in the hopes of embarrassing the male"). Joined by a motley crew of derelicts, father and son set out on a hedonistic rampage, visiting strip clubs, dive bars, race tracks and all-night diners, and hosting boozy fiestas. Lower, a popular Australian newspaper columnist, was a mere 27 when this book, his only published novel, went to press quite remarkable considering his narrator is middle-aged and holds the cynical opinions of a bitter old man. Clever musings are overshadowed by an oft-formulaic irony (at least by modern standards) that would play better in a stand-up routine or collection of vignettes than over the course of a novel.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
"Australia's funniest book" Cyril Pearl "one of the world's best humorists" Daily Telegraph On Stanley "I would rather rear a platypus than a boy." On Love "I explained to him that, if ever he found himself getting serious with a woman, if he bashed his head against a nearby wall for about ten minutes instead, he'd feel better in the long run." On Marriage "I explained to him about women. I showed him a portrait of his mother as she was when I married her and left the rest to his imagination." On Tidiness "One thing about Stanley, he is a methodical boy and pitches his clothes on the floor in symmetrical heaps where they can be easily turned over with the foot when anything is required." On Lying "That's the trouble with me. When I get started on a lie I must carry it on. Artistic pride, I suppose. The creative instinct. I keep on adding little adornments here and refinements there until I stand on a motley but magnificent mound of pure fiction; from which nine times out of ten, my wife will pick the keystone, so to speak, and bring me swooping to earth with a smothered but undeniable crash." On Hair of the Dog "A foaming pint-pot thumped wetly on the bar as I spoke and I clasped it by its big friendly handle, raised it, and the stuff swooped down my throat bearing a message of hope to my dejected internals. I replaced the pot, empty, on the bar and sighed - one of those deep, satisfactory sighs that seem to start from one's boots, gather all the little cares and troubles on the way, and from the mouth dissipate in the air." On Women "I know women. Know one of them and you know all of them. Of course, there are remarkable differences in women, but they can be likened to motor-cars. Different models, different qualities, but they all work by means of internal combustion." On Bookmakers "I fully realize, as a good citizen, that private property is sacred and that no man should be robbed except by proper business methods, but somehow the sporting malefactors of this world appeal to me more than people like my rotten landlord, who goes to church on Sunday and has the damned hide to call for rent on Monday." On Parties "It is my opinion that if there is no fight at a party, the party isn't a success. Parties have degenerated these days. The old time shivoos and picnics where there was tea and scandal for the women, and ginger-beer and sticky toffee for the kids, and beer and fights for the men, were better than the modern version. A fight livens up the evening and weeds out the undesirables, and if modern hostesses only had the enterprise to arrange a brawl among the guests, the present boredom of the social round would not exist."
Top customer reviews
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Before I even finished the book, I had sent copies to two people. It's that kind of book -- a surprise to anyone not reared among kangaroos and waltzing Mathilda. Read it and discover a dazzling comic voice. One of the best of the excellent Prion Humour Classics.
The book comprises of a short timespan in the life of Jack Gudgeon and his family, living in Sydney during the late 1920s. Jack Gudgeon is used by Lower as his champion of the working man (although I use the term working very loosely)! Gudgeon is left to fend for himself when his wife Agatha and her sister depart the household leaving only reprabate son Stanley for company.
The story follows Jack and Stanley's unorthodox approach to living without Agatha which consists of chopping up the furniture for fuel, many meals of steak and eggs, and parties with fairly dramatic conclusions.
Lower writes constantly with tongue in cheek but where as it would be easy to criticise sections of the book as msogynistic, I believe that Jack Gudgeon (in his own unique style) comes to the conclusion late on that perhaps he truly recognises how important Agatha his wife is to him. An example being when he describes the realization he got out of 'hugging the same pair of hips every night'.
Perhaps this book is now dated, nearly a quarter century since initial publication, however for me that just adds to the charm of the narrative. A good read for anyone wishing to escape the confusion of the modern world for a while.
It is a light hearted, fun comedy set in Sydney in the racy 30's. The story concerns the escalating problems that beset a typical Australian 'bludger' (lazy type), his immature 18 year old son and his silly brother in-law, when the man's wife leaves him, having been encouraged to do so by her venomous sister and sniffly mother.
It is a fun read, although perhaps getting slightly dated now and a bit mysoginistic.
It is faintly reminiscent of the escalating humour of 'The Adventures of Barrie McKenzie' (an Australian comic strip by Barrie Humprhires (Dame Edna Everidge) and turned into a film by Bruce Beresford in the mid 70's) and also perhaps Crocodile Dundee because of its colloquial Australian flavour and euphimisms.
It is now out of print but Angus and Robertson (Syndey, Melbourne, London and Wellington) may know where copies lie.