I read Ulysses the summer of my fourteenth year. It was sunny. Yes, a sunny summer in Ireland. Which is not unusual as I’m writing this retrospectively and most things laced with nostalgia are usually sunny.
Both of my older brothers had read Ulysses. They listened to U2 and still played cowboys and Indians.
We didn’t talk of normal country things. Well, they talked and I, being far younger, listened. They drove the tractors about the farm and raced the old banger, bought specifically for field driving, against Clonmore. At 15 hands and wide frame she shouldn’t have been so intimidating. But like most horses who were broken by dad; she was a half mad thing. And that made me love her all the more.
I stole the neon yellow, tea stained copy of Ulysses from the encyclopaedia packed library, in the Good Room. All of this was done after midnight but before the dogs started to howl.
I didn’t like it. The book. It made my face contort. And I wasn’t use to have such a physical
reaction to a book. Most of the words sounded madie-uppy. In fact, I knew babies who could talk better than this genius.
Obviously I didn’t share my opinions with anyone.
While my brothers were out on the farm. Or smoking behind the hay barn. And the girls were cooking or laughing. Myself and my twin sister would sit on the dirt behind the playhouse that felt too little for us now – and we’d read Ulysses to the crow lined trees above us.
It took us the whole summer. And we still didn’t understand it.
So it became like a secret language between him and us. Is that the genius of Joyce?
It was all bare bones and reductive phrases. Was he trying to find the child in himself?
I’d never discuss James Joyce outside the walls of my kitchen. It feels as if you need a masters from Trinity to mention his name. But we are allowed to an opinion.
Even if that opinion comes with a pink handbag and lip glos. And that’s what I love about the digital age. This is my corner of the internet. You don’t have to listen to it. But I still get to share my opinion.
Just as Joyce spewed his into Ulysses.
You what? Tell me:
Where’s your corner of the internet?
How do you share your opinions online?
What did you make of Ulysses?