Reader Response: Ulysses

Posted by

I look forward to doing a book review for Ulysses next, but a Reader Response based on my margin notes felt more appropriate given the nature of the work. 

Okay so this may not be as bad as I remember I mean it’s just some dudes eating breakfast and borrowing money from each other and then Stephen going to work to teach history and there are some funny observations and connections so I wonder if we’ll follow Stephen more or get back to Leopold well it looks like we are sticking with Stephen for awhile and he seems so incredibly broody that I hope that this entire book isn’t just Stephen as a vehicle to showcase point of view stream of consciousness and Joyce’s cleverness because right now that’s what it feels like and I wish I wasn’t not drinking this month because this would probably be more fun to read if I were drinking a stout. Hallelujah we’ve been delivered from Stephen for a while we just caught up with Leopold who seems generally more likable though not totally nice which is good because nice-ness is often the kiss of death for an interesting protagonist and it is a nice change of pace that he is less broody as well though he is pretty concerned about that cheating wife even though he has a side girl of his own which is good for him but which he seems horrible at hiding or maybe he doesn’t want to because he’d like to blow things up and confront his wife but hasn’t got the stones to do it and anyway this doesn’t seem the kind of thing this book is interested in exploring because it is too pedestrian and not pedestrian enough at the same time for Joyce and I enjoyed the funeral scene and really hope this lankylooking galoot guy goes somewhere because I’d love this book to be more than just the wandering rambling thoughts of these guys written cleverly but I wonder maybe he will end up being one of those everyman type guys or maybe some kind of substitute for Athena appearing to Odysseus or maybe he is really just a random dude that sparks a thought for Leopold because this is stream of consciousness and this does not seem either like the kind of work in which there will be a mystery with a solution which is ok I suppose but if I am not getting a story or a plot I would at least like to find a character I care about in some capacity I mean these guys have their funny moments but if this is how boring most people’s inner monologue is all day I am glad I cannot read minds and am only privy to the clever bits they share out loud. And now they’re having sandwiches and I’m hungry and thinking sometimes these guys and the people around them are funny and I love following these random people around town because the writing and observations are clever but then I get to the pub and oh for godsakes this is like hanging out with people who think they are incredibly insightful and deep and they just aren’t and I cannot wait to find an excuse to get away from them. I need a break from these people.

Back on the shore to ease back into Leopold’s world and then on to the pub after an interesting bit of great writing I wish more of the book was like this but I suppose that part of the point of this modernist exploration in writing is to not be bound by convention but it is mostly just making me so thankful for authors who utilize consistent style and punctuation though I do really enjoy the play format as a brain break after the dense bit that preceded it and thought the question answer format was super clever but then we are back again to dense writing drunkenness and murky identities and money and poetry and free association still going precisely nowhere which I suppose is how most of our days rolled out and laid bare would seem.

We finally get to Molly and she deserves a sentence of her own as she is worth trudging through all of the overwrought meanderings in the rest except perhaps when I thought they would never stop droning on during the afternoon when they probably all should have just gone home and had a nap and I like that I got a bit of her story and it is wild to me that of all the characters her voice is the truest and has the most honest cadence and her recollections intertwined with her awareness of present sounds and feelings and sensations is truly brilliant and quite beautiful and I’m thinking wistfully if only all of the book had been as magical as Molly.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s