Book review: Ulysses is an epic fail

1922 edition published by Sylvia Beach, Paris

1922 edition published by Sylvia Beach, Paris

I expected James Joyce’s Ulysses to be dense. I looked forward to it. Was I not equipped for the experience? I had been reading books for a long time; I enjoyed ‘Dubliners’ for its superlative renderings of human beings; I knew the route and streetscape of Ulysses and could picture the settings of the day; I was familiar with the Dublin vernacular and a good mimic of the accent to boot; I had schoolboy Latin hanging on by a thread to my vocabulary (both Joyce and I suffered Jesuit colleges); my Greek mythology was weak but could be bolstered by Wiki-places so yes, all in all I felt well equipped. I was wrong.

In Ulysses Joyce invented a literary voice and for this experimentation and courage he has become justifiably celebrated. This famed ‘Stream of Consciousness’ or ‘interior monologue’  has been emulated ever since, becoming a mainstay of modern literature and giving impressive voice to authors like Jack Kerouac, Salman Rushdie, Joseph Campbell, Samuel Beckett, Flann O’Brien, uncountable others and those yet writing.

To the professional reviewers who have phrased some of the most beautiful language and metaphors ever used to describe a piece of literature I say, ‘bullshit’.

Ulysses is not a good book. Joyce failed the most basic test of any author – Continue reading

A Movable Feast by Earnest Hemingway

A moveable feast

Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast will usher you into the romance (and it was romantic) of 1920s Paris just like Woody Allen transported Owen Wilson there in his 2011 Academy Award-winning screenplay, Midnight in Paris. As in the movie and this celebrated book, you will meet such luminaries as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce and of course, Hemingway himself amongst many other notables from all schools of the arts. I personally was moved to pound the pavements of Paris tracing the journey of these pages and would do so again before ever traipsing through the Dublin of Ulysses like so many Joyce aficionados do on Bloomsday each year. And I’m Irish!

But before any inspirational people populate the pages, the book is principally un hommage to the city itself. Continue reading