Where to begin?
I could start by saying that I first read James Joyce’s Ulysses in late June and July of 2004. I devoured it, or it devoured me, for a 7-day period in which I did nothing but read it and go to work.
I could start by saying that I have read James Joyce’s Ulysses a few more times since, but never with the same intensity. Each time I read it I am a better reader, and I gain more from it. I appreciate the technical mastery of the work, as well as the Catholic and Irish history and colour. I think, each time, that many of the sections are pages too long, and that the reader is capable of understanding the technique or purpose long before Joyce stops proudly showing us.
I could start by saying that it is a book I have abandoned, at least three times, partially due to length, partially due to reading it, these days, very slowly. Whenever I read it now, I like to read 10 pages per day until it’s done, because I find it all a bit too exhausting.
I could start by saying that Julián Ríos’ novel, The House of Ulysses, is related to Ulysses in a manner similar to my paragraphs above. His work is a lot more clever than my brief paragraphs, and far, far better integrated with the structure and techniques of Ulysses. Ríos echoes the chapter layout of Ulysses, and on top of that, and separate to Ulysses, it’s very cleverly laid out with screenshots from works in progress on a computer, broken-up text which jumps about the novel and its themes, and so on. It’s fun, it works, but, for me, the cleverness of it was understood within the first 50 pages, and then it went on for another 215. I didn’t abandon it, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone else does, either, as the variations are interesting, funny, and very, very smart. But it is a one trick book, and your interest will be determined by how effective or interesting you find the trick.
The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read over the years.