Outlander took a lot out of me because of everything that was going on when I read it. Even though Argo never participated in romantic feelings for me, it didn’t erase mine for her… and I was still deeply, madly, desperately in love with Dana. It was a different kind of love. They both dug deep down into my soul, but Dana had been there a lot longer. So the ties between Claire and me were apt. I didn’t want to leave “Frank” or “Jamie.” And then Amazon with its Dime Bag approach to book selling had me reading Dragonfly in Amber about 13 and a half seconds after I’d sworn I needed a break.
You know how I said that I skip around a lot in terms of authors so that my voice doesn’t start to sound like the last author I’ve just inhaled? Weeeelllllll, I came to the end of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and it just ends. It’s like the end of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. So OF COURSE I had to start Ulysses immediately to find out what happens to Stephen Dedalus. It does not disappoint. In Artist, Stephen says he’s going somewhere. In Ulysses, you find out where he went. It’s a brilliant ploy to sell books, but I remember sitting on the Metro earlier today and finishing Artist with no small amount of indignation. It reminded me of going to see the first Lord of the Rings movie with Kathleen at that big monstrous cineplex on King Street. I had not been a fan of the books as a child, so I was seeing the story cold. The credits roll and I turn to Kathleen and say, we just sat here for almost four fucking hours and they didn’t get anywhere? WHAT THE HELL. All of Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro stop heard me gasp in exasperation because surely if Stephen was going somewhere, Joyce would give some indication of where that might be. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but I thought Artist was a fine compilation of A Separate Peace by John Knowles and my own ruthless wandering into my own mind. In fact, toward the end, I started to think of it as Stephen’s blog.
I’d known that Ulysses was a modern retelling of The Odyssey since high school. Since I graduated in 1996, I’m hoping I’m not spoiling that for anyone (he was dead the whole movie, Luke is Darth Vader’s son, Beth dies, etc.). However, I did not know that it was such a massive work, or that it was so lauded. I just got very attached to Stephen Dedalus, as you might imagine I would if you know him (aren’t those characters you feel you know?) and me simultaneously. Stephen thinks of being a priest. His musings on God go on for pages, and he’s just lost in his own head trying to work out who he is and what he believes. We come out on either end of the spectrum, but his musings are interesting to one so theologically driven as myself. His dying mother asks him to pray for her, and he is so absolute in his agnosticism that he won’t even do that. I say agnosticism rather than atheism because when one of his friends asks him about it, he gives a “meh” kind of answer. I don’t believe in it, and I don’t NOT believe in it, either.
So we began this kinship, Stephen and me, and now I can’t quit him. I have to know why Joyce chose him to retell the tale of Odysseus, and what part he might play in the novel. I have read that he is an important character, but not which character he ties to directly in the Homerian epic. If he is Jason, I will fall dead on the floor. DEAD.
And on that note, I have to get to reading before my vitamin L kicks in. That’s because I was going to call Klonopin vitamin K, but realized that was potassium. Then, I couldn’t call clonazepam vitamin C, because obviously. I call it Vitamin L because it means “Vitamin Leslie is a nicer person.”