Monday, July 31, 2006

Epic Reading

I am finally reading Ulysses (by James Joyce). It’s a book that has been on my to-read pile for a number of years, along with quite a few others. This pile isn’t a real pile, it’s a virtual pile. If it was a real pile it would possibly be as tall as I am, but it’s not. It’s actually a scattering of books amongst my shelves and boxes. In some ways it is surprising I haven’t passed this book under my eyes before. It’s a classic work by an author whose other works I have enjoyed. On the other hand it is not surprising it’s been on the ‘pile’ longer than other books for several reasons:

1. It is 900 pages long!
To my thinking, books should be somewhere between 100 and 200 pages long. Any more and they had better be bloody good to be worth so many words. Whilst there are books in the third world (novelty publications section) that are positively starved of words!
2. I had hoped to complete both of Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad before I started on this one.
The Odyssey I enjoyed with its over-blown dramatisation something akin to modern journalism. But The Iliad, despite being translated by the same guy, and supposedly written by the same guy, just bogged me down and is currently on the virtual on-hold pile. The same pile that The Lord of the Rings has been on for 20 years. This is despite the fact I had enjoyed JRRT’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Hobbit. Mind you, I have now seen the first Lord of the Rings film and consider myself to have served my time and can probably move this book (actually, these books) books to the ‘life’s too short’ pile. An easy task as I don’t actually own a copy. So in fact they are on the virtual ‘my flat’s too small’ pile.
3. Have you seen how long it is?
The last horrendously long book I attempted was Harry Potter and the Siege of Troy, or whatever the fourth book was called. But that was written for adolescents and parents of small children and so was a very easy read.

So far the book is going well, but have that problem with all long books where you don’t look like you’re making any progress for the first few hundred pages. Keep checking here and over the months I’ll update you on the progress of my own odyssey into the mind of Mr Joyce. If all goes well, I may get up the confidence to dive into War and Peace. And if that works out, I’ll rent the video of the porn version, Whore and Piece By Layo Toolstoy.

Please do let me know what you’re reading.

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