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Ulysses
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Katie | 2362 comments A classic of modern literature, I've chosen to read this, along with a few others from our group, for Week 45: A book that intimidates/scares you.

The synopsis from Goodreads:

Loosely based on the Odyssey, this landmark of modern literature follows ordinary Dubliners in 1904. Capturing a single day in the life of Dubliner Leopold Bloom, his friends Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus, his wife Molly, and a scintillating cast of supporting characters, Joyce pushes Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes.

I'm super glad to have the support of the group as I tackle this beast.


message 2: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Aug 27, 2018 11:42AM) (new) - added it

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Katie wrote: "A classic of modern literature, I've chosen to read this, along with a few others from our group, for Week 45: A book that intimidates/scares you.
"


This is terrifying but I bought it and put it on my kindle 😩


Katie | 2362 comments Terrifying would probably be my exact word for it as well.


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Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments I never really thought about reading this book but ... here I am reading it today! Just a few pages in and I’m already going, huh? and having to look up a lot of words (e.g. hyperborean, dogsbody). Fortunately, I’m reading on my Nook so I can tap on the word and quickly get a definition. Some of the words aren’t even in its dictionary (e.g. poxy bowsy?) I’ll keep plugging away and see if it starts making sense. The language is really odd.


Tammy | 704 comments Pam...I remember hitting page 32 and reading a paragraph to my husband when I'd started reading it earlier this year. He told me to put it down. He said, "Nobody needs that nonsense!"


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Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments That’s hilarious Tammy! I am starting to feel the same way. Some of the language reminds me of A Clockwork Orange - just weird.


message 7: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Sep 05, 2018 01:40PM) (new) - added it

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
omg.....what am I getting myself into? ok I'm going to confess I was overwhelmed, not just by the thought of reading the book, but also by the selection of about 500000000 editions to choose from on my kindle. I downloaded the free version, but then read that it had a lot of typographical errors that made reading words like " dogsbody" and "poxy bowsy" impossible to read and understand? ( How exactly are we supposed to understand that anyway? )

Pam I'm glad I will be attempting to read this with all of you on my kindle, exactly because I can just press a word and access the dictionary .

Tammy, I agree, we probably don't need this nonsense lol

In the end, although I'm embarrassed to admit it I ended up also purchasing a $2 or $3 version .... Its called "Shmoop Classics for Kindle" and each section links to a separate piece, one for a summary of the chapter, and the second for an analysis of the chapter.....So this is going to be a study for me lol.

Are we using this A-Z thread as our discussion while we are cheering each other on? And is this just more for moral support, or are we going to discuss plot points and characterization? I need to know what we're in for....

Or are we just going to laugh and cry and make fun of ourselves and the book?

EDIT LOL, if you link to the GR book page the very first question says "you can and should read the Shmoop summaries of each episode after reading the episode", so maybe I'm on to something 😏😭


Jody (jodybell) | 3468 comments Hahahaha ... sounds like we are in for some fun. I know the words dogsbody and poxy, but bowsy is definitely a new one!


Michelle (mich2689) | 479 comments Haha I have no idea what those words mean. Looks like I’m in for a ride ride. Yes I believe we shall be laughing and crying in this thread. I’m also down to discuss plot points with spoiler tags if anyone can get to figuring out the plot. I’m so glad I have you guys for support!


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Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Jody wrote: "Hahahaha ... sounds like we are in for some fun. I know the words dogsbody and poxy, but bowsy is definitely a new one!"

Jody looks like you're going to be our resident translator


Katie | 2362 comments Oh I will for sure be consulting online analysis to help me decode.


Tammy | 704 comments If I can make it through Gravity's Rainbow nothing is going to stop me from besting the poxy bowsy Mr. Joyce (v.d. ridden lout).


message 13: by Jody (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jody (jodybell) | 3468 comments Ok, I’ve started it. Umm.


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Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Jody wrote: "Ok, I’ve started it. Umm."

I read part of the plot summary for chapter 1 😂


message 15: by Pam (new)

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments I’m going to put this one on the back burner for September but might try again in October. I want to read a few more Great American Reads books (specifically the Lord of the Rings trilogy) before the final episode.


Tammy | 704 comments I'm reading now!


Katie | 2362 comments I almost downloaded it last night but then thought, I'm not in a mindset to read that right now because the last 2 books I started were busts. I'm reading something easy now to get me on a roll, and then I'm going to try to start it.


message 18: by Jody (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jody (jodybell) | 3468 comments It's weird - I kind of like the writing, and it's a lot easier to read than I'd expected, but I still have no real idea what's going on.


Tammy | 704 comments I re-read the first section that I'd read several months back. I'm kind of following and I agree with Jody that the writing can be really gorgeous in places. I'm having a little easier time with it than the first attempt. My plan of action is to read each section straight through, check out the plot summary, and then reflect. I think that 3 tier process might get me through it.


Tammy | 704 comments I'm about a third of the way through now. I'm going to try to get to the half way mark tonight. It's hard to find the time during the work week! Have you started, Katie? Anybody else muddling along?


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Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Trying to finish up Blood Meridian for my Book Club before I start, but I'm so curious, so I might peek at it later on today.


Tammy | 704 comments Blood Meridian will probably keep your hands full for the time being, Tracy! That is a challenging read.


message 23: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Sep 09, 2018 01:05PM) (new) - added it

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Tammy wrote: "Blood Meridian will probably keep your hands full for the time being, Tracy! That is a challenging read."

It was not on my plan 😩. Actually, I expected it to be worse, but I did a little side research into the history behind it, so that made it a little more interesting. It has definitely been a MUCH quicker read than I thought it would be, I separated into 2 chapters a day until the 15th but was able to get in a few extra to make up for days I didn't pick it up. It's not as disturbingly violent as I thought., just lots of description.... very wordy, descriptive writing... with little to no punctuation. I should be done in the next couple of days and then I have to figure out how to split up the sections for Ulysses. I see you're flying through it.


Michelle (mich2689) | 479 comments I finished the first three episodes of Ulysses. It is quite wordy but so far it wasn’t as challenging as I thought. I think I understand about 80% of it. I managed to get the overall gist of the storyline and then I read the sparknotes summary to get the rest.

I’m really enjoying the writing though, despite the wordiness. It’s so much better when I read it out loud. It has a nice rhythm to it.


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Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
This gives me hope Michelle.....


Tammy | 704 comments Any thoughts on the book? I'm going to finish the last 23 pages. Michelle, did you keep reading?


message 27: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Sep 15, 2018 11:20AM) (new) - added it

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Tammy wrote: "Blood Meridian will probably keep your hands full for the time being, Tracy! That is a challenging read."

I have read nothing but Blood Meridian all month and STILL haven't managed to finish it. I am going to need to read 6-200 children books once I finish today before I can even think about Ulysses. IDK, maybe I will recover more quickly than I am anticipating.

How is it?(Ulysses) Is there an actual story? Will I at least be entertained by non-violent nonsense?

Tammy, I posted in the Blood Meridian thread, I had questions... I can't believe you read both of these in the same year. You deserve an award 🙌🏼


Tammy | 704 comments Blood Meridian is not an easy book on so many levels. I hate to say it, Tracy, but a lot of the issues you had with BM (lack of punctuation, who is saying what, run on sentences) are present in Ulysses. The last chapter (50 pages or so) had maybe ten periods! But Molly had her period, so there is that. You'll know what I mean when you read it. There isn't a lot of blood (aside from aforementioned menstruation) but there is quite a bit of racism and sexism. I did love Blood Meridian. Nobody does depravity better than Cormac. I like books that make me think. I might have had a really hard time with Ulysses, but I can't deny that it is an epic work that I will keep thinking about for years.


Katie | 2362 comments I have Blood Meridian on my Katie Reads 100 list, and I'm both nervous & excited by both of your comments.

Of course right about the time I'm feeling pumped to actually start Ulysses, it's checked out at all of my (many) libraries. So I'm "patiently" waiting for it to come in, and meanwhile trying to make serious progress on my ATY challenge. I went from 7 books behind schedule last week to only 3 books behind schedule now, so I consider that a victory.


message 30: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Sep 17, 2018 07:05AM) (new) - added it

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Katie wrote: "I have Blood Meridian on my Katie Reads 100 list, and I'm both nervous & excited by both of your comments."

So I FINALLY finished Blood Meridian last night with mixed feelings. I had a weird love but mostly hate relationship with this book. Some parts were 3 stars some were 1, the ending was the best part. Some of the descriptions could have easily been a 4 or 5 star for me, really beautiful prose. I just think it could have been shorter by half. I will for sure be thinking about it for a long time and maybe as I absorb more and think I'll feel differently.

I have a stack of books on the table, The Smell of Other People's Houses, When Breath Becomes Air, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Embroideries, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick, The Goldfish Boy and American War that I need to read this month and return. I'm definitely looking forward to a few graphic novels today!!

Once I read a little more of the light stuff I'll take another peek at Ulysses, either later this week or next week.

Awesome job catching up Katie!! All of the books up there ^^ are for ATY, so I should be making a lot of progress as well in the next few weeks :-)


Katie | 2362 comments I just finished the book I was reading and I look at my library book shelf, and there's Ulysses. I'm so intimidated to start!


Michelle (mich2689) | 479 comments Katie, it wasn’t as bad as I expected! I think you’ll do fine!

Tammy, I didn’t make much progress since my last post. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and so I’ve been reading on my kindle more rather than read Ulysses, which I have in a physical hard cover version. I’m on episode 5 now.


Katie | 2362 comments I made it through episode 1 last night, and I actually enjoyed it! I started to fall asleep toward the end, so I'm planning to revisit the last few pages tonight before moving on.


Tammy | 704 comments Tracy...I think you have exactly the right feeling about what you read in Blood Meridian. I had a very difficult time reading that one, but sometimes the books that are the most difficult for me to get through are the ones that I think about for the longest after finishing them. That, for me, is the sign of a good book! BM has all kinds of allusions to Moby Dick and the Bible and the original idea was based on historical writings of the Glanton Gang during war (whether those historical accounts were accurate is up for debate).

I'm very happy that you've started Ulysses, Katie! I really think the thing to do is to read it and get it under your belt. You will not always understand what you are reading and it can be intimidating and overly detailed, but that is okay. I thought the final chapter was spine tingling wonderful. It is the only part told from Molly's perspective and it ties up quite a bit.

Michelle, I can totally see why you don't want to travel around with a tome of a book! I look forward to your thoughts when you get back into it.


message 35: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Sep 18, 2018 06:28PM) (new) - added it

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Im going to read a couple graphic novels today and then try out episode 1 tonight. I don't think it will be that bad, I'm actually looking forward to conquering this book now.


Tammy | 704 comments Go for it, Tracy! Embrace the pain.


message 37: by Jody (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jody (jodybell) | 3468 comments I’m getting back on the horse tonight! I wanted to finish off my current Kindle fiction book (AtY Week 37) before getting further into it. Now that’s done, I can read a bit more as my current AtY book (Week 38) is an audio. I try not to have toooo many on the go at once, but I usually fail at that when nothing holds my interest.


message 38: by Katie (last edited Sep 18, 2018 01:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katie | 2362 comments I stumbled upon this site last night: http://www.ulyssesguide.com/

It has episode guides. I started reading through the first one after I finished it last night. I liked it because it seems like it explains some of the allusions. And it has some pictures of locations. I'm liking it so far because it feels like studying the book with a literature professor. I probably won't use it for the whole book because it's exceedingly detailed. But I'd like to start the novel off on the right foot.

My coworker read it last year during his lunch breaks, and he said he ended up getting nothing out of it. I don't want that to be me!


Tammy | 704 comments Oh, that is cool, Katie! I'll be checking it out tonight. Question....have any of you read The Odyssey? I've started it but haven't gotten far. I wish I'd read it first. At the end of the book I came to think of the book as the Odyssey for the reader. A journey that Joyce has taken you on through literary allusions, wordplay and parodies. Another question...Have any of you read Infinite Jest? There is a big part of Ulysses that deals with metempsychosis (the transmigration of a soul at death into another body). Interestingly enough, IJ has a character called Madame Psychosis which I think is a direct nod at Joyce.


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Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments Thank you Katie for the link and Tammy for the suggestion to read The Odyssey first. I’m pretty sure I read it in high school but I have a copy of it and the Iliad that I’ve been planning to read. (I don’t remember much of anything that I read in HS!) I’m glad to hear positive comments about the book.


Katie | 2362 comments I read the Odyssey & the Iliad in college. I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend the Robert Fagles translation. It's been 10+ years since I've read them, but I definitely preferred the Iliad. I feel like a refresher on the Odyssey would be super helpful though.


message 42: by Jody (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jody (jodybell) | 3468 comments Ok, I finished the first episode. Oddly enough I really love the writing, even though I feel completely lost. But now I'm wondering if I should read The Iliad and The Odyssey before I keep going?


message 43: by Tammy (last edited Sep 18, 2018 09:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tammy | 704 comments Ive done it all backwards, Jody, so you can manage without the Homer. Don't stop your momentum now. It is going to get harder, but the wtiting is so wonderful. Chapter three is going to be tough, but it is really beautifully written.


message 44: by Pam (new)

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 2783 comments I returned my library book but an still thinking about reading it and following this thread. I’m curious what it means to be beautifully written, especially if it’s tough to read and understand. What is about the writing that you like? I feel like if I don’t understand it, I won’t care about the writing.


Katie | 2362 comments I'm through episode 3 & I feel like a total boss. Then I realized it's only 7% of my ebook, hahaha.

I'm listening to the audiobook & following along in the ebook. I was worried that listening to the audiobook would be difficult to follow, but it's actually nice because the narrator does different voices for the different characters, so it makes that easier in some ways since the book is quite sparse on attributions so far.


Michelle (mich2689) | 479 comments Pam, I also didn’t know what it meant for a book to be hard to understand and be beautifully written at the same time, until I started Ulysses. I don’t quite know how to explain it except that the writing sounds like music to my ears.


Katie | 2362 comments So Tammy, I guess there must be some mega long episodes, right? Because I'm on episode 6 & feel like I'm cruising, but I've barely made a dent. There are only 13 episodes, aren't there?


message 48: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Oct 14, 2018 11:30PM) (new) - added it

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Ok I did it... I picked it up and started it tonight. Since I'm reading the Shmoop version, I read the summary and analysis chapters for episode 1 before starting and I think its helpful. My kindle version says I have 23 minutes to go for this episode and its 2 am and I should really be sleeping. I am going to try to read the second episode when I get to it without peeking at the summary and analysis first. Curious how much I will understand. I do agree though that the writing is much easier than I expected. Its just so looooong.


Tammy | 704 comments Unfortunately, Tracy, it will get harder, but I'm glad you are taking the dive. Keep us posted, Tracy. Try to read small chunks each day.

I loved the last episode so much that I think it is a shame that it comes at the end of the book (a place that many people never reach). It is the only section that is from the perspective of a female, and boy oh boy, it is a hoot.


message 50: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (last edited Oct 15, 2018 07:28AM) (new) - added it

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2542 comments Mod
Well I can say with almost 100% certainty that its not going to be finished for the challenge, but I'm going to keep working on it using the notes and Katies link. Like Katie said it's kind of like studying it with a literature professor. Gives me something to keep me busy right now.


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