Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dubliners by James Joyce, the first four stories

I'm ashamed, too, but this is the first time I've read Dubliners. What? I've had other things to do.

I can certainly see why Dubliners in considered where all modern short stories flow from. But in reading these, it's striking how not similar they are as well, but not in ways that make it seem antiquated, but more like in ways that show how we've changed as readers. There seems to be a lot of time just getting people into place, like in the story An Encounter. No way is there that kind of lavish play-by-play of this kid running around doing nothing in a modern short story. It'd be cut, especially in any kind of workshop. We're too impatient. (Or at least I am.) Nothing of apparent consequence happens and it doesn't really seem to move anything along. The meat of the story is when he encounters that pervert, right, so just get to the goddamn pervert already. Am I wrong? Yeah, the dallying does kind of invoke some schoolboy innocence, wasting away the hours or whatever and it does give the pervert a proper foil and makes him even more striking. Idylls & pastoral stuff, verily, but with, you know, Irish perverts lurking in the fields.

And the endings of the stories all seem cut off too short. I'm waiting for that epiphanic moment, that beautiful "Ah-HA!" blossoming, and then it just sort of ends, or I kind of think I might maybe "get" it, but I'm not sure, so I want to read it again just to make sure. Really, I think this just shows how out of whack my deep reading skills have gotten. They need to be honed for sure. Like, I still don't know why that first story was called The Sisters. Are there sisters in that thing? Did I miss something? I had to miss something.

However, I am enjoying this quite a bit, despite my confusion. It's a bit like a 11 year old boy seeing an attractive naked lady for the first time. He knows he likes it and he knows that he wants to see it again, he wants to more of it, as in he wants the next thing he sees to be another brand new naked lady just like that one he's looking at right now...but he doesn't understand quite why he likes this naked lady all that much. However, enjoyment is being had.

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