Wednesday, January 12, 2011

James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway--and Dan Simmons

A friend of mine is leaving Sunday to go overseas for a few months, so he and I hung out for awhile tonight.  Where would two writers hang out on a Tuesday night with the salt and sand trucks haunting the roads and with both guys short on money?  Borders, of course!  Since his birthday is Saturday, I figured, Why not get him some books and then go out to dinner?  So what do you get an educated guy who's passionate about literature and writing?  James Joyce's Ulysses, the granddaddy of literate, educated, passionate writing.  C'mon, it took a landmark obscenity judgment in 1933 to allow its distribution in the U.S. at all, and the last 30 pages is one sentence--and much of that is the evocation of a young woman's stream-of-consciousness and lustful thoughts.  (One wonders if it would have been as big a deal had it been a man's lustful thoughts.)

Then I heard he'd never read Joyce before, so I got him Joyce's Dubliners, too.  I have to admit that the real treat of that volume is the short story, "The Dead."  As brilliant as Ulysses, in a much more compact and different way.  The last image of snow and ash-like substance is genius.  Lastly, because he'd never read Hemingway's short stories before, I bought him a complete collection of Hemingway's short stories, the Lingua Vica Edition, or something close to that.  A friend of mine, who works there, sang the praises of "The Killers," and mentioned its obvious effect upon Quentin Tarantino, which is a leap I will also take.  I preferred "Hills Like White Elephants," which my friend said was horribly overrated.  He was denounced by another friend of mine who works there.  This latter friend is the husband of my 6th grade teacher, because this state is like that.

After buying him these classics, I bought myself Dan Simmons' Drood, and another, earlier book by Simmons.  All of this cost me under $20 because I used my better half's 33% coupon, plus a 15% coupon I found in my wallet from a survey I did for Borders, plus another 15% coupon I found as I was leaving the house.  I took the survey for that one and used it just in the nick of time.  The remainder was paid for by a $30 gift e-card from a friend of mine--Thanks, F.!--and the final tally for me was under $20.  I hope to have the time to read these two books sometime in the next 9 months. 

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