If I Could Be the Dummy on Your Knee

I never could bring myself to finish reading Finnegan’s Wake by that old barnacle Joyce. And I know I probably should, what with me being a writer and all. But Christ almighty (excuse the Catholicism of that), it all gets a bit too much, doesn’t it? My writing arm hurts just thinking about it.

Nothing really happens (in the sense of plot spoilers) does it? And James Joyce swore he wrote the damn thing — even though I’m sure Nora got a few words in.

And all those portmanteau words and free-associating screeds and what-have-you-portrait-of-the-artist literary winks and nudges, who the hell needs that when you’re just trying to relax with a good book?

Mother of God (is this possible? Does God exist as a dummy on another’s knee) it just goes on and on, feeling existentially endless after a while.

I couldn’t take any more linguistic virtuosity or multi-layered intertextuality. I just couldn’t. It was more than enough just to Google “linguistic virtuosity” and “intertextuality,” which I mistakenly typed in as “intersextuality” and spent the rest of the day relaxing on a divan eating grapes.

I kept saying to myself, over and over again, like a priest in prayer, “Give me a bit more action, for Christ’s sake.” Even some vampires would do. Or zombies. If Jane Austen, who modernized the English novel by kicking out the flimflam and verbosity of the previous Victorian novels, can manage to squeeze in the undead, then surely Joyce could have tossed in a few werewolves or a rich and handsome Mr. Darcy to his modern novel.


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