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James Joyce

average rating is 2 out of 5

Classics, Short Stories

R. Alex Jenkins

I didn't go to Harvard or Oxford and I'm way too shallow and untethered to appreciate the finer qualities of James Joyce. I like to bash him and warn others though!

If you're thinking about experimenting with JJ, this is a decent non-committal place to start because it's just a book of short stories. If you don't like the contents, skip to something else... you may even love it?

Yes, I liked Dubliners a LOT more than Ulysses, but it's still a toil because of that famous stream of consciousness with no plots or storylines - basically, write whatever you want, mate. Beautiful prose, yes, but that's not always much fun!

Right from the start, the The Sisters has profound dialogue and atmosphere, but no discernable message and nothing memorable, and the rest of the book is pretty much the same. Ivy Day in the Committee Room is an excruciatingly dull story... blokes drinking bottles of booze in a dingy room, arguing about committees and politics, reminiscent of what it's like to be poor and oppressed in Dublin.

Two Gallants is a decent tale, though, about a couple of guys who con young ladies into parting with their hard-earned cash. They mooch around, observe, brag and speculate about their mini heists. And The Dead is probably the best known story in this collection because of how profound, dark and doomed it is. It's actually pretty good, but not worth picking up this entire volume for.

Sorry, James Joyce, but based on this and Ulysses, I will not be reading Finnegans Wake (sic) anytime soon. You win!

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