Worth Another Visit

With all the wonderful literature, poetry, magazine articles, polemical screeds, and manifestos I haven’t read yet (and that’s just what’s piled up on the coffee table), I usually don’t get around to reading a book more than once. I’m willing to make two exceptions for two wildly disparate reasons.

At some point, I know that I am going to read James Joyce’s beguiling and inscrutable masterpiece Ulysses again, if only to attempt to catch a fraction of the 80 percent of it that went over my head the first time. I would like to take it with me to Dublin at some point and be able to visit the places that Bloom wanders through as I read. At the very least, a Joyce literary tour is in order, stopping, of course, at the pertinent pubs along the route.

The second book I need to read again could be considered an easy-going southern cousin to Joyce’s mad ramble. John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces certainly attempts to do for New Orleans what Ulysses does for Dublin; it paints such a vivid (and hilarious) psychological portrait of the city that mere characters and plotlines become … not beside the point, but rather a means to understand the deeper nature of the city.

I fear that, while a large part of Dublin that Joyce—and by extension, Bloom—knew is still preserved and celebrated, the city that Toole and Ignatius J. Reilly would have recognized may be long gone.

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2 thoughts on “Worth Another Visit

  1. Ha! Both “Confederacy of Dunces” and “I am Ozzy” almost got me kicked out of coffee shops. Those are two of the funniest books ever written. I’m not driven to reread Ozzy’s book, though. I think once is enough.

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