Sunday, 6 October 2013

Ulysses by James Joyce

I finished this a couple of days ago, flew to the other side of the continent, and am right now jetlagged. So, maybe not the best time to be trying to sit down and review Ulysses.

Or maybe it's exactly the right time. Maybe when I'm tired and not thinking straight is the only time to sit down and let this review spill out, when I'm not overthinking it, or trying to figure out exactly what I want to say.

Because really, I have no idea. This book has been my constant companion for the last four or five months, reading 10-20 pages a day, taking my time, and for the most part enjoying myself. But I don't feel like I have deep insights to offer.

I'm glad I've read it. It was an accomplishment. It was a pain in the ass. It was enjoyable. It wasn't nearly as hard as I was expecting. It was harder than I had expected.

Ulysses is a tour de force of detail and lived experience and lyricism, and boringness. He explores virtually every kind of prose there is, every writing style you could imagine, from school examination to stuffy 19th century to stream of consciousness.

Leopold Bloom walks the streets of Dublin, intersecting the lives of others, walking through a history of literature styles from myth to overblown newspaper society pages. And a play.

And damned if I can explain any of it to you. But it's worth a read, worth the effort, and the joys and the struggles.

Perhaps when I have my wits more about me, I may come back and expand this.

 Read as part of the BBC Big Read

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