18 February 2012

avoiding Ulysses

I set myself a little-ish goal this year, to read James Joyce's Ulysses by Bloomsday (June 16).

So far I've read about 55 pages about a month ago, and haven't touched it since.

I have read two books and started a third, in the time since then. All because I am avoiding Ulysses. This is why I could never join a book club, this is why I came to resent my English Lit. degree and didn't want to pick up a book for far too long after I graduated. I don't like it when reading is given a deadline. I don't like it when reading becomes a chore instead of a choice.
Now, I know it's not a chore if you don't want it to be. And I know it's a self-imposed deadline, so it almost doesn't count. But my brain is funny. And Ulysses is.....weird.

I am stubborn though and I want to finish it, it seems interesting. I can tell already I'm going to love some bits and really really struggle through others. If I start it up again now I have 4 months to get through the 18 chapters that amount to almost 800 pages. And then I can start on Proust. Cough.

At least I enjoyed (and shed many many tears throughout) Diane Keaton's Then Again and especially when re-reading Jane Eyre. I literally could not put it down over the ten days I devoured it, every spare moment I had, even for three minutes, I would be reading it. I miss that feeling of being obsessed with a story. It doesn't happen very often to me at all but it's a thrilling thing to have when it takes over.

The current book to elbow Ulysses out of place is Matt Bondurant's The Wettest County in the World (read in anticipation of the film currently being made and shocked as to how I had never heard of it before!) which bowled me over from the very first few pages. I am already invested in the Bondurant brothers and their tales. I do not want to drink their moonshine though.

I will keep you posted on my inevitable struggles with Ulysses. Advice welcome.


1 comment:

Francesca said...

I read Ulysses at uni, and it really helped that friends in my class were reading it too - it was like we were running a marathon and cheering each other on - we (semi)joked about getting "we survived Ulysses" t-shirts made. My best advice? If you don't have an annotated edition, get one - understanding the multitude of references really helps. And go for a long walk after each chapter - it'll help your head stop spinning :-)
Good luck! It's worth it!

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