Technically, I’m supposed to be reading The Good Earth right now, at least if I were going in order with my list of classics, but I started out of order by reading The Maltese Falcon first, so I guess when it comes to chronology, all bets are off this time around.
So, I started reading James Joyce’s Ulysses a couple of weeks ago, and at the rate I’m going, I’ll be reading it for awhile. Levi and I were emailing about what I was going to write about here this week, and I mentioned that I was thinking about doing an occasional series about my experience of reading the book, my odyssey through Ulysses, if you will (groan), because — perhaps because it’s so long, perhaps because there’s an attitude of “Oh, you’re reading Ulysses? You’re not going to finish that!” surrounding the book — reading this particular classic seems to be as much about the journey through its pages as it does about the book itself. And maybe, just maybe, if from time to time I write about reading the book, it will help propel me through it. So here we are at the first installment. How exciting.
I will admit that I haven’t gotten very far with it yet. This is at least due in part to the fact that I usually read for about an hour at night before I go to sleep because I have a hard time fitting it into my day otherwise, and Ulysses seems to have the ability to knock me out almost immediately, leaving me to wake up five minutes or an hour later feeling completely disoriented and wondering what the hell is going on. So maybe I should try reading it in the afternoon, or something.
Despite the fact that it’s apparently like a lullaby (at least to me), I’m not having a bad time with it. I am incredibly grateful that I know Homer’s Odyssey really well, because it’s been helpful. In fact, I’ve been using it as a companion reference while I read. So far, it’s working. And that’s pretty much all I have to report at present — I’m not very far, the Odyssey is useful — but I will check back in with another update on my progress when I get a little further along in the book. To those of you who have finished Ulysses, I have a question for you: I know it’s not a race, but how long did it take you to finish it?