A “Nestor” Preview, A Conversation Around Reading Methods, and Your Favorite Irish Slang Terms

by BEN VORE

At the bookstore where I am employed, teenagers are beginning to trickle in to purchase their summer reading books. The other day one such student approached me at the information counter and showed me his list, which required him to select one of four titles. “We should have these in, so you can take your pick,” I said as we walked over to the summer reading cases. “I already know which one I’m picking,” he said. “The shortest.” (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie it is.)

Anyone notice how long the “Nestor” episode is?*

Let’s tackle it in two days. I’ll twread and recap pp. 24-30 tomorrow (so we can dig into the juicy financial transaction which occurs between Stephen and Deasy) and then pp. 31-36 Sunday.

I think it would be helpful to hear what method everyone is using to read Ulysses. I took Jerry’s advice and purchased Ulysses Annotated (which has proved to be quite a life preserver thus far). But now I’m faced with the problem of deciding when to consult the annotations: During the reading? After? Before? During is the most practical yet it blunts any momentum and threatens to bog one down in textual minutiea. After would theoretically allow for smooth, uninterrupted reading except for the fact we’re reading Ulysses, not The Monster At The End of This Book. And before, while conceivably like watching game tape and developing a subsequent strategy, is simply depressing: Twenty-odd pages of full-justified, double column text with lots of inscrutable abbreviations? What did we sign up for again? (And why I am typing this at one in the morning in the middle of my vacation?)

After reading two episodes now, this is the strategy I’ve settled on:

  1. Attempt to read the episode sans annotations;
  2. Re-read the episode with annotations at hand (or on the screen, as lizaanne42 recommends);
  3. Proceed directly to the liquor cabinet for a stiff drink.

Basically, I’ve resigned myself to at least two readings. Except “resign myself” sounds defeatist. Let’s try: I’ve embraced the fact I need at least two readings. To paraphrase the Beastie Boys, Wandering Rocks is like the lotto: You gotta be in it to win it.

What other methods have been helpful? Anyone drowning out there?

Finally, I thought it might buck up morale and be a nice team-building exercise (a Wandering Rocks trust fall, if you will) to start a friendly blog rivalry with the hosers over at infinitesummer.org. And what would cripple a bunch of pomo pantywipes more than some bona fide Joycean epithets? So let’s debag those scrotumtightening fenians and collect some prepuces!

Maybe give ’em some foot and mouth disease!

A coughball of laughter we phlegm in their general vicinity!

Rotto!

 

* = I did not consult the length of this episode before selecting “Nestor.” Honest. Nevertheless, I anticipate feeling judged and scorned by others in the group, especially the poor sap who signed up for “Circe.”

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2 Responses

  1. I think it’s a good idea to read a summary of the chapter (either in Blamire’s Bloomsday book, or if desperate, on SparkNotes) to “prime” yourself for it. Then read the chapter and resort to the annotations as needed.

    You eventually get the hang of what will be in the annotations.

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