It's a novel with episodes based on Homer's Odyssey, only instead of being a journey over years in ancient Greece, it takes place on one day in Dublin: June 16, 1904. It follows Leopold Bloom as he goes through a normal day in Dublin and is rich with puns, allusions, and some of the most revolutionary stream of consciousness writing I've ever seen. Dublin has put together an incredible festival: Celebrations mark Joyce centenary, but there are local celebrations all over the world, including one in San Francisco at O'Reilly's in North Beach. Even Google recognizes the day -- check out the Joyce-inspired logo on google.com.
The BBC has a great piece up today, Cheat's Guide to James Joyce's Ulysses. It's funny if you've read the book, and helpful if you haven't.
So have a gorgonzola sandwich and some burgundy, and celebrate the anniversary of a fictional adventure through Joyce's Dublin.
While I'm being literary, I think another BBC article is worth noting: Oprah helps Tolstoy top book list. That's right, since Oprah chose Anna Karenina for her Book Club, suddenly housewives are running out to buy their copies.
I wonder if Tolstoy would have reacted to the addition of his book to Oprah's list the way Jonathan Franzen did when Oprah wanted to include The Corrections on her book club list. He didn't want to be considered "Middle Brow" and threw a fit in the media. Franzen's objections were strange, considering Oprah promotes Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison like it's her job. But I understand why he wouldn't want his book to be included on a reading list whose target is not the literary community, unless the Literati has suddenly become a collective of housewives and talk show lovers.
I'm pretty sure that Tolstoy would not have been happy to see his book sales skyrocket on the NY Times best-seller list at the behest of a TV talk show host. As a friend put it, "he would see it as the betrayal of mother russia and the nobel serfs and crush oprah and her cosy media empire."