…to get me back in a bloggy frame of mind. Thanks to Chris Lott, I have, for the moment, put aside the many books piled up waiting (just finished Alexandra Fuller’s truly beautiful The Legend of Colton H. Bryant), to return to James Joyce’s Dubliners, a book I first read in ninth grade, and that didn’t do much for me then–I was a confirmed Hardy Girl (Thomas, that is–having read all of his books once and some of them twice by then) but found its way to my heart in college and several times since.
I’ve never joined in a loosely-connected reading group, and I’ve always hated book groups though I have cherished some classroom/discussion rooms around books. Since leaving teaching I’ve become a bit of a solo reader, ravenous, making my way through books I never seemed to have the time to read. I’m ready for company. I miss fellow readers embarked on the same adventure. What I love about this reading experiment is that it’s bringing people together from all over the reading map, people I know, people I don’t, and we can respond however and wherever we like. Already people are talking about some creative approaches to responding. Who knows where we all will post/respond/connect. Postcards are going to wing through the air. Blogposts, Twitter, Posterous–who knows what else, where else, how else we will discuss and respond. How different from a book group or most formal settings. How intriguing…
I’m only one story into my reading, but already I have been struck by how much there is to get out of reading aloud (and committing to heart). Perhaps especially the work of Joyce who struggled with poor eyesight and thus felt the world acutely through his ears? Some think so. Some think his musicality has to do with his being Irish (the Irish English being a sort of music, the Irish language resonating through accent and phrasing), leaving Ireland and moving about so much, country to country, languagescape to languagescape. I think he just understood how language and storytelling, the world of place and people, are so much about meter and sound.
Nancy White’s post about finding an Italian copy of the book, and then links to audio recordings of the collection got me to thinking about how important it is to me to read aloud and to listen to others reading. And how sound creates such a problem in translation, especially for a writer so sensitive to the soundscape. I just read the first story aloud to myself, and wish I could hear my fellow readers’ voices on the stories–not someone hired to read–but those trying to understand the text alongside me as part of this exploration. It would bring me closer to them as they respond and it would, I am sure, bring me ever closer to the stories and make them live again.
To that end, I’ve recorded the first paragraph of the opening story, “The Sisters”, and in so doing slowed down enough to feel with the narrator that night, the power of the words in their sounds–paralysis, gnomon, simony, to notice the “darkened blind” and feel the flicker of the candles through the staccato notes of the phrase’s syllables.
I had no idea that when I joined this group for the month of February that I would be recording myself reading the opening paragraph, dusting off the dormant blog, and searching about for stamps for postcards…
Come join us–see what crazy things you’ll do!