He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.
—  James Joyce, Dubliners

A bit of searing on-the-ground reporting from James Joyce’s birthday party, 1931: “The waiter brings a special wine which Joyce recommends to us very earnestly though he does not drink it himself as it is red. It is Clos Saint Patrice, 1920 … ‘He is the only saint whom a man can get drunk in honor of,’ Joyce says, praising Patrick in this way. We laugh, but he insists that this is high praise … In the apartment to which we return there is jollity. George Joyce sings; Sullivan sings; James Joyce sings.”

For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.

Ten Books for Short Story Lovers

The Steppe and Other Stories - Anton Chekhov

Collected Stories - Isaac Babel

Because They Wanted To - Mary Gaitskill

Girl With Curious Hair - David Foster Wallace

Selected Stories - Eudora Welty

Little Kingdoms - Steven Millhauser

Dubliners - James Joyce

What Was Mine - Ann Beattie

Like Life - Lorrie Moore

A Good Man is Hard to Find - Flannery O’Connor

by: juliettetang

Joyce analyzes something still more ungraspable than Proust’s “lost time”: the present moment. There would seem to be nothing more obvious, more tangible and palpable, than the present moment. And yet it eludes us completely. All the sadness of life lies in that fact. In the course of a single second, our senses of sight, of hearing, of smell, register (knowingly or not) a swarm of events, and a parade of sensations and ideas passes through our heads. Each instant represents a little universe, irrevocably forgotten in the next instant. Now, Joyce’s great microscope manages to stop, to seize, that fleeting instant and make us see it.
—  Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel

So I designed & illustrated the Centennial Edition of James Joyce’s “Dubliners" for Penguin Classics.

Early on I decided against writing any blurbs & bios, instead I wanted to approximate Joyce’s techniques in visual arrangement, medium and form. I started with an infinite crowd frozen between movement and paralysis, for the back cover I played with various links between the stories and designed the flappy layout accordingly: it opens with the beginning of “The Sisters” and closes with the ending of “The Dead,” at which point you dear reader should be in tears.

"Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger."

I remember being lulled by the narrowing sweeps of the book’s final passages and feeling that the 27 slowly sailing through the tenderloin is no longer the same 27, not sure how, just the vague sensation of a translucent film newly pasted between the vision and the brain, ineluctable modality et all. Joyce’s imagery is already complete in its universality and exactitude making any attempt at illustration pointless by default and no, I’m not just dissing myself, I only wanted to put a link to these brilliant Joyce covers by Peter Mendelsund.

Great big thanks to Paul Buckley (his Penguin 75 is a must-read) for the assignment and for allowing me to do the entire design, I’m deeply honored to be in the company of all my cartooning heroes: Seth, Sammy Harkham, Ivan Brunetti, Jason and many others. In fact I think I’m the only one in that company who doesn’t have a book. Yet.

Her lips touched his brain as they touched his lips, as though they were a vehicle of some vague speech and between them he felt an unknown and timid pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odor.
—  James Joyce

"Was it right to kiss his mother or wrong to kiss his mother? What did it mean, to kiss? You put your face up like that to say good night and then his mother put her face down. That was to kiss. His mother put her lips on his cheek; her lips were soft and they wetted his cheek; and they made a tiny little noise: kiss. Why did people do that with their two faces?"

- James Joyce, Portrait of the artist as a young man

Having trouble getting through Ulysses? We don’t blame you!  Marilyn told her photographer that she loved the sound of it and would read it aloud to herself to try to make sense of it — but she found it hard going.  Kevin Birmingham’s new book on the remarkable fifteen year-fight to publish Ulysses may change your mind about this difficult novel and hopefully persuade you to give it another shot! Click here for more info