I not only read, but studied at length, James Joyce’s Ulysses,
academically a “serious novel” though Joyce said, in 1922, “…the pity is the public will demand and find a moral in my book—or worse they may take it in some more serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one single serious line in it.” More accurately, per Steven Kellman,
“it elevates plebeian characters and banal actions to artistic consideration and, celebrating them, performs what [Declan] Kiberd, in an aptly Catholic metaphor, calls ‘the sacrament of everyday life.'” In Kiberd’s new book, Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece,
this is a book with much to teach us about the world—advice on how to cope with grief; how to be frank about death in the age of its denial; how women have their own sexual desires and so also do men; how to walk and think at the same time; how the language of the body is often more eloquent than any words; how to tell a joke and how not to tell a joke; how to purge sexual relations of all notions of ownership; or how the way a person approaches food can explain who they really are.
Makes me want to read Ulysses again, if Pynchon will let me.