A quick show of hands, again, please:
Who has picked up Finnegan’s Wake, read 15 page into it and thought, “This guy is stark raving mad. Who would write something like this?! And why on this green Earth do people think he’s a genius? BAA! I’m going back to Steinbeck where it’s safe.”
No? Well, sadly, I have. Many, many, many times. I own Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses and they are both in brand-new, mint condition…except for the first 15 pages.
It’s embarrassing. When the topic of classic literature comes up in conversation (and, believe it or not, it does) I am completely astounded …scratch that. I am bewildered…I am completely bewildered by the number of people – otherwise normal, rational people whom I consider to be friends – who are hopelessly in love with James Joyce. Honestly, when, in the past, they’ve waxed all literary lovey-dovey over him, I’ve throw up a little in my mouth. Gah. Bleck. Ph-thew.
Until yesterday. Yesterday, thanks to Posie Gets Cozy, I read The Dead.
Now, you have to understand that my favorite Christmas story – and one of my all-time favorite books, period - is A Christmas Memory.
Not what you’d call uplifting. No happy ending. Not exactly A Child’s Christmas in Wales, so I should have read The Dead years ago, right? Except that I’d never heard of it. I warned you that I was not well-read.
So, early yesterday morning, in the bed, under a pile of (3) grateful cats I did read The Dead. And I teared up a bit. And I LOVED it. And I am going out to buy Dubliners – with a reader’s guide so as to try to learn something, so help me God – and as my New Year’s resolution I vow here and now to, in 2008, read and learn about and try with all that’s left of my addled, rapidly aging brain to appreciate the genius of James Joyce.
Who knows? Maybe in 2009 I’ll tackle Milton. *throws up a bit in mouth*
Or maybe not….
PS - BB: I am posting this on my severely abbreviated lunch hour, so there.