Monday, May 18, 2009

Megan - No Progress

I really thought that once I committed to this I would turn into an avid reader. While I think I'm reading more than I have yet this year, I still feel as though I'm not getting through anything.

I started Ulysses but am finding that this one of those books I wish I'd had a class on in college. It's going to be difficult to get through on my own. I'm hoping that this will be one that others will want to read together? I know Middlemay is going on so definitely not right now, but in the future? If there's an interest I will put this one away for a while. I'm so confused...


J.C. Montgomery said...

I felt that way when trying to get through Notes From the Underground by Dostoyevsky.

As for Joyce, I introduced myself to him through some of his short stories, as I heard Ulysses can be challenging. (Which you've discovered)

It isn't on my list, but if it is ever discussed, I might try getting a copy from the library and try to keep up.

I wonder if there are study guides you could check out? I'm sure there is something out there.

Either way, please don't get discouraged. There is nothing wrong with setting something aside and picking up another book that may help boost your confidence a bit.

Hugs to you.

brionywilliamson said...

Never fear Megan! It's on my list, and I'm putting it off for a little while, as I think I'm going to need a support group and a whole lot of Guiness before I makes sense of that.

I agree with J.C - put it aside for now and then come back to it later =)

Jason Gignac said...

I'm currently in the middle of Ulysses, right now, and I agree, it can be a challenging book. I'm just over halfway through, so I probably wouldn't be good for a book club, though I'd be happy to contribute what I remember from it, if you do it. In the meantime, here's what I found helpful:

1) I know, this is like the bane of the twenty-first century, but I have to say, Wikipedia has a really nice article on the book. If you're reading one of those chapters where you have no friggin' clue what's going on, this can be a lifesaver.
2) I just finished reading the Odyssey before reading Ulysses. The parallels are strong, and VERY intentional - some editions apparently even have chapter titles that hark back to parts of Ulysses. This gave me SOME of the depth Mr. Joyce is trying to put in, and helped me understand the characters.
3) Ulysses was not meant to be copletley understood the first time, or even the tenth or twentieth time you read it. I firmly believe there are parts of the book where you get more from just reading the book and letting it wash over you, than stopping and trying to figure out each word. So, if something doesn't make sense, just enjoy the sound of it.
4) On that note, read the hard bits out loud. Helps for some weird reason.

moonrat said...

If you want to put this down for awhile, Megan, I will happily do a book club with you. It's on my list and I doubt I'll be able to get through it without help/support. I'm going to need a break from heavy books for a couple months, though.

Goedi said...

Don't foget the "acceptable gaps."
Starting it and putting it down and not picking it up again is an option, too. There's plenty more to read.
You can already speak more intelligently about it than I. My conversation about Ulysses includes the words: Dublin, Joyce, Molly Bloom, and "yes, yes, yes, yes, yes..." They have made me seem quite well read at several parties, and I've never even picked up the book.

Rachel said...

Chin up! I bet a group-read of Ulysses would be popular here, for those who have it on their lists. Ulysses is on my acceptable gaps list--you're braver than I am to even start it. So don't feel bad, just go read something fun & fast from your list, like Three Men in a Boat!

Goedi, ha, I'm in your league with the "knowing smile and nod" when it comes to Ulysses, and I have never picked it up either! Was surprised to learn recently that my mother has read it, it's SO not her type of book. (She called me out on the fake smile/nod, it was funny.)

Megan said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I definitely don't want to give up for good, but am all in favor of a support group. And there's plenty of time. Can't say that I'm in any particular rush on this one. I knew when I added it to my list that it would be a difficult read, but perhaps it will be a little easier when I'm forcing myself to read a certain amount at a time rather than the bits and pieces here and there that I've been doing.

For now I will finish up The Chronicles of Narnia. It's a large collection so it should make me feel as though I've accomplished something. :)

Linda said...

Yep, I'll do a Ulysses book club - in a few months? It'll take me that long to recover from Middlemay! I AM SO BEHIND!

Hang tough... Peace, Linda

moonrat said...

Hahaha Linda that's how I feel.

Side note--I did just read Fun Home, a graphic novel/memoir by Alison Bechdel, and each chapter in her story of her relationship with her father is based around a piece of classic literature. The last chapter features Ulysses, and I just read it tonight... I gotta admit, it piqued my interest a little more.

Jen C said...

Oh Megan, I am feeling the same way about Anna Karenina! God, it's boring. It got interesting for a few seconds around the 100 page mark, but then it got frigging boring again. I will keep pressing on with it, but I feel the same way, like I'm really lagging behind.

Ulysses is on my list, so I'd be happy to join in a group reading for that!

Amanda said...

Jen C - I'm sorry to say the rest of Anna Karenina will be exactly the same way. I hated that book.

M. said...

I could definitely go for some book club co-reading action on Ulysses. I'm honestly not sure what to expect--I loved reading Dubliners, but Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man made me want to reach back in time and throttle the pretension out of the man. Ulysses has been sitting on my shelf unread for a few years now, mainly because I'm not sure if it'll end up being more of a Dubliners or Portrait type experience.

I've heard from several sources (including Jason here) that it's helpful to have at least a loose idea of The Odyssey's structure before hitting Ulysses -- I've read and taught the book a few times, so I could help fill in some of those gaps if some people haven't read The Odyssey. The New Bloomsday Book by Harry Blamires has also been recommended to me by several people as a good guidebook for Ulysses.

The only month I wouldn't be able to participate is July, because I will be absent from internet land on account of marriage.

moonrat said...

Dear Lord! Not marriage!! What would George Eliot have to say about that?!

Just kidding ;) Congratulations!

I agree I want the end of June and July off for... lighter reads. Eg not MIDDLEMARCH. I suppose I could start ULYSSES in August or September. I would propose a REALLY unambitious reading sched, though. Like, over 3 or 4 or 5 months or something.

Any scholars of Joyce who want to jump in with nice breakdown proposals?

Jen C said...

Oh no, Amanda! I'm going to pretend I didn't read that and that AK is going to get really super interesting very soon!

To mix things up a bit I bought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies today so that I can read both at the same time. I thought a bit of fun reading would be the perfect thing to get me though.

Amanda said...

Jen, P&P&Z is excellent, loads of fun. I think that's a perfect book to mix in there.

Megan said...

I would suggest a fall or winter timeline for Ulysses. When it starts to get a little colder and darker a little earlier. I feel that I'm more inclined to sit and read bigger books if I don't feel the need to seek fresh air. Summer is a time for light, happy reading. But perhaps I'm alone in that.

It's great there are so many interested though! We'll make sense of this yet!

Jen C said...

I'm Aussie, so our seasons are all back-to-front, but I don't mind, I am happy to read Ulysses whenever!


So far, I'm loving P&P&Z! Hilarious, I love how the Bennet girls are famed for not only their beauty, but their zombie fighting skills!

The concept of that book is pure genius. I'm so jealous I didn't come up with it myself!

Nancy said...

If anyone asked, I'd have happily admited to thinking of Ulysses as an acceptable gap. I'd be interested in a reading group though. It's not on my list, I've tried it a couple of times already with no success. Not even in Dublin.

Heaven knows, group support is probably the only way for me and Leopold Bloom and today's opportunity shouldn't be tossed aside because of a list I made yesterday.

More importantly: Megan, try not to worry about progress now. Five years is a long time. Often I have put away a book that bores me then pick it up and enjoy it a couple of years later. Life changes us, and we aren't always ready for a book on the day we have enough money to take it home with us.

No matter how many times you read the story, the turtle always wins. :-) Hang in there.