Sep 14, 2015

James Joyce's Ulysses: Worth The Trouble?

I've almost finished my Proust quota for this year, and I'm looking for a replacement. I always have a classic in rotation with my lighter reading, for contrast and for learning about great prose. I've picked up quite a few writer tricks this way, so I think it's worth it, even though some of them tend to be kind of hard to get through. Some books are pure fun, like cotton candy fluff, but you can't live on that. Sometimes you need to buckle down and eat your oatmeal, because it's good for you. This looks like an oatmeal kind of book. Or maybe spinach. Brussel sprouts?

Anyway, I'm going for it. 

I've heard so many horror stories about this book that I did some research before starting. Apparently you need a reference book to read the actual book, so I browsed a bit on Amazon and ended up with this one: 

Seriously, the pic doesn't do it justice. This thing is fricking huge, and heavy enough to kill a few Mirkwood spiders with. Inside, it's full of tiny print in multiple columns; it reminds me of the bible. And it's all annotations; the original text isn't included. (Btw, someone needs to do an e-book that has the text of Ulysses with links to the annotations. Two books seems like the hard way to do this. I'll have to have both books nearby and go back and forth. Come on people, we're living in the information age!) 

Okay. If I wasn't intimidated before, I sure am now. 

The plan is to read each section once, then wade through the annotations, and then read that section again, so I'll actually be reading the whole thing twice. Do I get a t-shirt or a mug or something when I'm done?  Or a gold star? Literary fistbump? Okay, I'll settle for bragging rights, then.

I'll let you know how it goes. 

Wish me luck, I'm going in.

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