May I call you Jimmy?

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, June 15, 2011 7:49 PM

When I was in college, studying Creative Writing and English Literature in order to get my bachelor’s degree at the University of New Hampshire, I did both a lot of writing and a lot of reading, getting lost inside stories that transported me like Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, or journeying back to Shakespearian England to tread the boards and sometimes choking through works that I liked but didn’t love, words that I read but didn’t absorb, like the short stories of James Joyce, the Irish novelist and poet considered one of the most influential and modernist avant-garde writers of the early 20th century, a writer I truly appreciated because I knew I was supposed to but a writer I could never really embrace though I do remember reading and liking – sort of – The Dead, the last short story in his book of short stories entitled Dubliners, about a man named Gabriel who has an epiphany about himself, his wife, their past, the living and the dead, ultimately revealing his smallness and insecurity, an introspective philosophy that I didn’t quite catch at the time because I was only 21 and not yet attuned to the fine art of symbolism as applied to great works of literature and especially as applied by Joyce…

… who would go on to pen one of the novels ranked first by the Modern Library on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, Ulysses, a book that both paid homage to Homer’s Odyssey – Ulysses is the Latin name for Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s book – and turned it completely on its head with Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness technique (the last episode or chapter is comprised of run-on sentences that employ little to no punctuation), unique structuring, experimental prose, puns, parodies, allusions, humor and obscenities that actually put the book on trial, but which I have never read even though I’ve tried because it’s just too obscure, though I have to admit that his stream of consciousness idea is one that intrigues me as both a writer and a story teller and I’m seriously considering picking the book up again one of these days, after I plow through some of the other piles of books that I haven’t read but want to, to finally read a book that’s actually one of those books that achieves greatness without actually being a great book, a category I suspect many books from the 19th and 20th century fall into, but no matter;

I will open the book about Leopold Bloom and read about his ordinary Dublin day, taking place on the 16th of June 1904, a date that is celebrated annually as Bloomday on the streets of Dublin, Ireland where James Joyce penned his most famous work and all of his works, and where one day I hope to visit, but not until I read that damned book so that I can fully appreciate and participate in this most literary of celebrations even as tonight I trying something a little different as part of my own celebration of James Joyce and that’s the run-on sentence because if you’re still reading, which I sincerely hope you are, you may have realized that this entire post is one, long, drawling, ridiculous sentence: a true celebration of language, grammar and punctuation because even with this whole thing being one sentence, Microsoft Word has not seen fit to underline it in green to tell me that it’s wrong. 

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