An Open Letter to James Joyce

Dear James Joyce,

I don’t really know how I would start this letter because I am neither that big a fan of your work, nor that interested in how you are these days — mostly because you are very much so dead.  So I guess the best way to do this is to just dive right in.

I’ve been attempting to read your “legendary” novel, Ulysses, for the past month and let me tell you something: it isn’t going well.  Now, I consider myself to be a very capable reader.  I can understand and break down themes, hidden metaphors, and unreliable narrators.  I have read my fair share of classic literary works and I usually only have a few bad things to say about them.

I have even read Homer’s The Odyssey, the work you based this door-stopper of a novel, a couple of times.  When I was in college, my Greek Literature professor even told the guys in our class not to sell their copies of it back to bookstores because nothing makes a man look sexy and smart than having The Odyssey on their bookshelves.  And I decided to keep my copy too.  Not to help me pick up men, but because if I was going to drudge through the 10-year struggle of Odysseus getting back to his wife, I was going to keep the evidence and brag about it when possible.

But you, sir.  I am seriously contemplating throwing this novel out the nearest window, and watching passing cars drive over it repeatedly while I sport a shit-eating grin.  You have taken all of the amazingness of Homer’s epic poem and shit on it.  Even more so, you like to talk about your characters shitting.  I don’t understand much of what it is you are trying to say in Ulysses, but when I do, it’s about defecation.  So I’ve at least got that going for me.  I now know the gastrointestinal tract of one of your main characters.

Although I have been reading your classic for a month, I have only gotten 62 pages into your 700+ page work.  And I am not one to give up on novels, unless they are complete trash (are you listening, Lauren Wisberger?).  But I cannot wrap my head around your work.  And I know you intentionally did this, being the cheeky bugger that you are.

If I gave it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality. I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.

I can easily picture you sitting at your writing desk laughing maniacally as you write your three well-thought-out sentences a day, that have nothing to do with the story, but can be interpreted a hundred different ways.  “Oh they will never get this!” you say, as you chuckle to yourself.  This is unacceptable.  Why would you want to write a novel that nobody understands anyway?  I guess you are right, it does make it immortal.  But it also makes it painful.  With every sentence I read, I feel bits of my soul slowly breaking away.  Your last words when you died were, “Does nobody understand?”  You must have been talking about Ulysses and then began kicking yourself in the dying head for not making it clearer.

But I will not give up.  I am frustrated to hell and don’t want anything to do with you now.  But you and I, James, are just going to go on a small break.  I am going to see other people — Toni Morrison for instance; she is next on my to-do list. — and you will remain sad and lonely until I decide to give you another chance.

Mr. Joyce, what you’ve written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Sincerely yours,

allex

P.S.

I have read your steamy love letters to your wife, however, and maybe you should have given erotica a shot.  You would definitely be giving E.L. James a run for her money.  And she, at least, doesn’t deserve to be immortalized in literary fame.

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7 thoughts on “An Open Letter to James Joyce

  1. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. When I posted on Tumblr that I was struggling with this book and giving it up for the time being, I got a lot of “This is the best book ever!” “What a wonderful, genius work of fiction.” I think I made it about as far as you did before I decided I could go no further. I may attempt it later, when I am older and wiser…maybe. For now, it is beyond my scope.

    • You are not alone in your James Joyce struggles. I was told by a lot of Twitterlings that it is so worth it and so rewarding and blah, blah, blah.

      But I just couldn’t take it anymore. And many said that it took them a YEAR to finish (and appreciate) it.

  2. Reblogged this on As I Lay Reading and commented:
    I am sharing this Open Letter, as this is exactly how I felt when I tried to read Ulysses. I’m not sure I got much further than Allex did before I had to give it up. I may try again later, but for now, sorry Joyce, I just can’t hack it.

  3. […] on Tumblr reblogged my James Joyce letter and then added this comment with it.  Looking at their site, I found out that they are really into […]

  4. I used the exact same Billy Madison clip on my blog… I can’t remember what book I was making fun of now, but, just wanted to say bravo!

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