Ulysses Odyssey, Part Two: Nestor’s a Pester

Later: I’m working my way into the book now. Slow going.

The book is made up of random thoughts as this guy, Stephen, wanders around Dublin. The idea is that Homer’s ODYSSEY, the story of Ulysses trying to get home after the Trojan War, provides the thematic skeleton for Joyce’s book.

Wandering thoughts as a wandering character emulates a wandering hero.

Homer’s version had his hero fighting monsters. Joyce’s book has me fighting the urge to hit myself on the head with my hard cover copy.

But I persevere: Jack, the smart cookie that leads our book club, says the goal is to just get through this one. I muster on.

Later: My version of the book doesn’t have chapters. No mini-markers – just three parts for the whole novel.

I can’t tell where on a page I left off reading; unsure even while re-reading if I ever read that section before.

I briefly wonder if there is an Illustrated Classics comic book version. That sure helped me get through Conrad when I was six. To this day I talk to people about LORD JIM as if I read the book.

Later: Breakthrough! I take Jack’s advice to heart, and give myself a break. I am no longer trying to understand the book, but rather give myself points if I know what the characters are doing while they are thinking their profoundly unfathomable thoughts.

Hey, he’s swimming! Give myself a point.

He’s teaching a class! Goooooal!!!!!!!

He’s uh, he’s uh, crap, I don’t know what he’s doing… Aw, blocked shot.

Later: I find that in not trying so hard, I’m actually getting more out of the book.

I stumble across this quote: “History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”

I like it.

Later: Reading at my sister’s house. I try a passage on my niece.

“Glorious, pious and immortal memory. The lodge of Diamond in Armagh the splendid behung with corpses of papishes. Hoarse, masked and armed, the planters’ covenant. The black north and true blue bible. Croppies lie down.”

She just looks at me with that face of exasperation reserved for when I try jokes that she has clearly out grown. She tells me to quit making stuff up and come play Apples to Apples.

I comply.

Later: Victory! I finish part one.

Sure, part one is eighty pages into a millennial of sheets; but I don’t pull out the calculator for this one.

There are three parts to this book; I am done with part one; therefore I am a third of the way through the book.

No amount of math is going to take that victory from me!

Now for part two…

To be continued.

Just my thoughts,

Sean

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