James Joyce at the Library!

~posted by David W.

There are some books that should be heard and not seen.

James Joyce at Seattle Public Library
Look Who Stopped by The Library on Bloomsday!

Well, perhaps that’s a little extreme. Let me say instead that there are authors whom you haven’t really experienced until you have read them aloud, or had them read to you. Most poets fit that category, and certainly Shakespeare. And for both myself and The Wild Geese Players, who will be reading him this Saturday at the Central Library, James Joyce. His Ulysses had remained largely a closed book to me. I had gotten a hundred or so pages in more than once, only to throw in the towel, addled by Joyce’s curious locutions and challenging stream of consciousness. Then I listened to the audiobook, and everything changed.

Like a growing number of readers, I love audiobooks. When I saw that Audiofile magazine had lauded the Jim Norton production of this book as “as ambitious and rewarding an audio production as any that exists, an audio experience that truly deserves to be cherished,” I decided to give it a spin. Indeed, just as they promised, Norton’s reading “turns a challenging book into an inviting, even a hypnotic, one.” I couldn’t agree more: Norton brought to vivid life the chain of incidents, musings and wonders that comprise one day in the life of Leopold Bloom – that of June 16, 1904, recognized on its anniversary as Bloomsday. (I have since enjoyed Norton’s readings of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as well as Flann O’Brienn’s madcap The Third Policeman; in both cases I picked up on things I’d utterly missed from my silent reading).

Perhaps the only thing better than an audiobook is a live reading. This Saturday, June 20, The Wild Geese Players will be celebrating “The Other Bloom’s Day” at 2 p.m., at the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library, Level 4, room 2, with a reading of Ulysses Chapter Two – “Nestor” – and Chapter 5 – “The Lotus Eaters.” The Wild Geese Players have been reading Joyce and other great Irish writers aloud for 18 years, and are actually on their second pass through Ulysses. Come join us for what promises to be a rare treat, as Joyce’s words live and breathe once more, at the Library. Here are some helpful notes on this Saturday’s reading selections.

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