Doesn't the 16th come round quickly when you're having fun...are you still there Team Ulysses?
So how's everyone doing this month?
Perhaps because I'm still at low altitude this hardly feels like a mountain at all at the moment, more like a relaxing stroll up a gentle incline. Though I am prepared for that to change.
Ulysses, the impossible book suddenly seems possible and all those tensions and anxieties that walked into those pages with me have dissipated as I realise how much I am enjoying the reading and looking forward to picking the book up, making myself put it down when I could easily carry on reading.
I started off on the two pages a day plan which fell by the wayside for reasons of flow.
I just didn't want to stop after two pages and if I did I ended up reading from the start again just to get into the swing of things. Effectively I'd be able to say I'd read Ulysses thirty times or so but decided that would impress no one I know in the slightest.
So I sat down and read this sixty or so pages in one sitting, read a great deal out loud and I loved it.
It's been wonderful to finally meet the famous Leopold Bloom and start travelling around Dublin with him, see the city through his eyes and pitch up to various events in his company. Being a non-lover of kidneys, I couldn't share in his delight at the breakfast treat but I thought the trips to the privy and the funeral were incredible, littered with comedy and often laugh-out-loud funny.
Little sayings are starting to stick in my mind and I'm wondering if these are some of the moments that so many Ulysses-lovers mention, the quotables,
'The Irishman's house is his coffin'
'Out of the frying pan of life into the fire of purgatory.'
And what about the drunk in the cemetery looking at the statue!
Alongside this month's pages I've been reading Frank Delaney's James Joyce's Odyssey - A Guide to the Dublin of Ulysses which has maps and photographs, all invaluable to someone like me who knows woefully little verging on zilch about the city, the people or its history.
I'm really starting to get a feel for the book now.
Another book I plan to dip into with next month's reading is Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation - A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties by Noel Riley Fitch. Sylvia Beach of course, the owner of the legendary Shakespeare & Co bookshop and the publisher of Ulysses.
It was lovely to meet up with RevCheryl who ventured down to Devon on holiday last week. The wool shops are cleared out and she's perused those shelves you can see with a notebook in hand, but we did pause and draw breath to huddle over a copy of Ulysses and agree how much we were enjoying it, both the discipline of the regular reading and the book itself.
We even had one or two ideas about what we could read next year, once we've conquered Ulysses on Bloomsday 2010.
I've floated the idea of The Tale of Genji as a masterpiece of Japanese literature that would certainly open some new reading trails, and team-reading it here is about the only chance I think I have of conquering it, but we have plenty of time to think about that.
Meanwhile I can't wait to hear what you are all thinking about Ulysses now we are at Camp Two and please don't worry if you're elsewhere in the book or not even in it at all and just spectating our ascent. Fore or aft, it doesn't matter in the slightest, everyone needs to do this in their own way if at all.
I'm wondering is anyone reading the footnotes? I'm skimming them now, but only quickly.
Is anyone managing to follow the Odyssey theme? All beyond me I'm afraid but I should think if you know that territory this could be fascinating and this could well be something I start to delve into eventually. It's becoming a regular reference in so much of my reading lately and the more that happens the less I can ignore it.
On that note does anyone else feel that they are probably missing acres of significant allusions but they don't really worry about that right now?
Does the language and the writing feel like a window onto one great, big huge writer's mind?
I'm feeling slightly in awe of James Joyce as I read. Where on earth did all this come from?
Is anyone else smiling secretly as they read?
Both because it's genuinely funny but perhaps because you also feel a teeny tiny weeny bit smug that you're finally actually really 'reading Ulysses.'
Me too, which usually means I'm about to fall flat on my face but at least we're all in it together.