Never has a book read (cover to cover) by so few been celebrated by so many…
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong about a bunch of people getting together to have a good time. I am totally in favour of joy and merriment, whether it is for Bloomsday, the European Cup football final, the regional leg of the Blackpudding Eating Contest, Miss Universe or the Oktober Fest.
It’s just that I have a love/hate relationship with the book used as the justification for this outing in period clothes.
Some passages are indeed brilliant. But they tend to be buried deep into loooooooong bits of extremely boring ramble.
My major gripe is that I had to actually read the whole shaggin thing (twice in English, once in French – Valery Larbaud should have a statue of his own, for not having died of frustration while he was translating Ulysses with the help of the Master). This in itself was not always a walk in the park.
But the really demoralising part was to have to read the analysis of some of the very boring parts by mind-numbingly boring old academic farts who only lived (to the age of 153 on average) for their battles of wit with like-minded nerds and their ground-breaking interpretation of a few lines at the next Joyce symposium.
Anyway, it’s good for tourism and it’s good for the economy.
So much so that some have tried to copy the formula.
The city of Klagenfurt in Austria has tried to launch a festival celebrating the virtues of the Lake Wörthersee area Telephone Book: it is as “meaty” as Ulysses, has been read (cover to cover) by more people and a lot of its pages are more fun to read than the account of one day in the life of a guy with an obsession for the arseholes of statues.
But it does not carry the same excuse for literary joie de vivre and bonhomie and it has never caught on…