I struggle with James Joyce. I attempted to read Dubliners after high school but I could never get a good finger-hold on any of it. I’ve always wanted to read Ulysses, and Tiffany’s summer book club suggestion was a good way to jolt me out of my unemployed, non-student stupor, but dear god(s) it is heavy. 

Ulysses is packed full of symbolism and allusions the likes of which I’m sure my high school English teacher charged with teaching Scarlet Letter and Gatsby would positively faint over. The difference is that I could positively devour those books. I keep hitting a wall with Ulysses. I can reread one sentence many times over, searching for the meaning, and never really know where the hell he’s taking us. I understand referring to known works and symbols, but the frenetic, stream-of-consciousness style is off-putting. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like a smart read. Like I said, Gatsby and Scarlet Letter were probably some of my favorite required reading, but at least you glean a general idea of what was going on. I rarely have to reference Sparknotes to gain an understanding of plot, but in this instance I feel like I’ve used it as a crutch for the first few chapters. 

I had to take a break, escape into mindless reading (a book on craft beer) and regroup. Today I’ll give the next part my full attention, but I suspect reading it with a bottom of whisky may be a more inspiring endeavor.  

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