About a year ago I wrote this entry, stating that once again I tried to read Ulysses and failed. I said that I knew nobody (except Eric) who has actually read the book. And Eric struggled with it for years.
Today I had lunch with Jack. He brought up Ulysses. I shared my sentiments and then he told me a story that puts reading Ulysses on a whole different level altogether.
First he agreed with me. The book is impossible to read. Jack is 60 years old, and tried all his life, using Cliff Notes, guides, picking it up and putting it down, kind of like I did over the years.
Jack has a girlfriend in Sacramento who I shall call Diane for the purpose of this story. Jack lives in San Diego. The relationship is obviously a long-distance one.
I must say that I would not be very good at a long distance relationship. I don’t “do phone” very well at all. Well, I don’t do “talking” very well in the first place, and phone makes it that much harder.
About six months ago Jack and Diane decided to read Ulysses to each other nightly on the telephone. Tonight is a special night. They are reading the last chapter, perhaps right as I am writing this. Jack said that reading it aloud made a huge difference. Changing voices and dialects helped bring it to life. Trading off reading and listening, and keeping a rigorous schedule, made it all possible.
I am so impressed, I am speechless. Reading Ulysses, one of the hardest books in the English language, to each other on the telephone, may be unique and may have never been done by anyone ever before.
Jack recommends reading “The Artist as a Young Man” first to lead into Ulysses.
I am inspired. James Joyce, here I come.