So, I’ve finished Episode 1, Telemachus. Man, it was something else. I had to read the section twice, with a quick reading of the Episode 1 recap in The New Bloomsday sandwiched in between.
This book earns its reputation for being hard to read. Honestly, the first reading was like reading a book after all the words were dumped on the floor and slapped back together. Very confusing and disorienting. Barb joked by asking how many people were involved in the episode…when that’s where you are on basic facts, it isn’t going to be easy. The problem is, I think I almost got into a fugue state as a reader–expecting things to be disorienting–but in reality, once you get oriented–once you look for the narrative and not the confusion–the story is actually more direct than it seemed.
So, I had gutted through. The first section is 18 pages or so and it took me like three separate sittings to get through it. If you want to call what I did getting through it. I got to the last word.
Anyway, last night I picked up the New Bloomsday and read the summary of the episode–which is like five dense pages on its own–with the plan of starting episode 2. Instead, just for fun, I read episode 1 again, and this time I read it like a normal 18 pages…in like 15 minutes, with flow and sense to it and I actually appreciated what people say about the book. It was energetic and poetic and picturesque. The use of language and metaphor is truly brilliant. He can describe the changing sea landscape in more pitch perfect ways than I ever imagined could be done. More on that later.
So this leaves me with two options. One is to read the Bloomsday first and then the next episode. Or, read the episode, and then Bloomsday and then read it again, which, as Barb points out, means I am going to read Ulysses twice. She mentioned that it might get easier from here on in, now that I have cracked the code, that’s true, it might.
So, for episode 2 I’m going to try and do it the right way and read the text the first time in an uncoached fashion before reading the recap. We’ll see.
One thing I did notice. You absolutely have to read and focus on every word. Lots of us scan/read, but that won’t work here. The book requires your full attention because major changes drop in two words and in the flow of the narrative, without the signaling we have gotten used to.
On we go….