Dubliners by James Joyce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dubliners is a book I wish I had read back in college when I was actually analyzing books for their deeper meanings. Given that I read this book for pleasure, though, I feel like I missed some of the most important details that were spread throughout these pages. It's a book that is both simplistic and also incredibly deep at the same time. So despite its manageable size, it's not an easy read.
Told in a series of short stories, the tales I liked the best were the ones that I didn't have to think too hard to understand. "An Encounter", "Araby", "A Little Cloud", "Counterparts", and "A Painful Case", were my favorite stories. But other stories like, "After the Race", "Clay", and "Ivy Day In The Committee Room" made me rush to Wikipedia to make sense of what I just read. Again, if I was in the mindset of analyzing each story word by word, then I might have appreciated them more. But as it was, they seemed to go nowhere and to have little pay-off upon finishing them. It was only when I looked up their full meaning that I got a sense of how intellectually dense they were.
All in all, the story-telling in Dubliners is kind of like a really, really early version of The Wire. Just like The Wire showed different aspects of Baltimore and its people, Dubliners does the same with Dublin. It's a great read, and one that's worth multiple re-reads. And even though it's James Joyce, it's still not too daunting. Finnegan's Wake this ain't. Give it a try.
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