This was my first attempt at reading Joyce, who I felt somewhat nervous about tackling, so I felt fortunate that my first would be a slim volume of short stories.
Over the years I have read quite a bit of Irish literature.
From the glorious short stories of William Trevor to Anne Enright and Colm Toibin’s painful stories about growing up in Irish families.
I also read Frank McCourt’s desperate coming of age memoir, Angela’s Ashes when it first came out.
Furthermore thanks to writers like Roddy Doyle, Emma Donoghue, Colum McCann, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald I appreciate that the Irish seem to have this weird love/hate thing going on with misery, bleakness and grinding poverty.
All this is to let you know that I knew what to expect from Joyce as far as godforsaken, woeful Irish stories goes. Joyce even declared it as his intent in the afterword written by J.I.M. Stewart in the back of my copy of Dubliners –
My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country…I have written it for the most part in a style of scrupulous meanness.
Joyce was very successful in realising his intent!
I have no problem with stories that highlight the miserable existence of the human experience. I don’t need everything to be rosy and positive and uplifting. But right now, misery stories are not working for me no matter how wonderfully well they are written.
And so I struggled my way through Dubliners.
I felt completely weighed down by words and phrases like –
Writing appreciation 5/5 but personal enjoyment only 3/5.
How did you go with your CC Spin book?
My previous spins were –
#1 The Magnificent Ambersons with Cat @Tell Me A Story.
#2 Tess of the D’Urbervilles with JoAnn @Lakeside Musings & Several Four Many.
#3 My Cousin Rachel.
#4 The Brothers Karamazov with Bree who also read a Dostoyevsky novel for this spin. I gave up on this chunkster about halfway through, then I lost the bok during our move earlier in the year…serendipity, I say!
#5 The Odyssey with Plethora of Books. This one was a bit of a cheat as I had started it for another readalong, but struggled to finish. I added it to my list to motivate me to finish it. When no. 20 spun up it seemed like the gods had decreed it so!
#6 No Name by Wilkie Collins with Melbourne on My Mind.
#7 Silent Spring by Rachel Carson with Booker Talk – my first classic non-fiction spin.
#8 Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh has been my one and only dud Spin read so far.
#9 The Great World by David Malouf my first Australian classic spin.
#10 A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark.
#11 So Big by Edna Ferber with Christy where we both experienced the joy of rediscovering a forgotten award winning classic.
#12 Dubliners by James Joyce.