In Dubliners, his collection of short stories, James Joyce captures Irish life, specifically the lives of Dubliners. Each story is a magnificent sketch of the people, setting, and situations; the entire collection presents a variety of such sketches. At the end of each sketch, I felt the despair that I believe Joyce intended to impart in each normal life situation. While each story captures different characters in a various stages of life, similar despair pervades each of their lives in related settings.
Joyce’s ability to capture the world through his words greatly impressed me. Each story is incredibly realistic and amazingly readable. However, I was not impressed with the plots behind each story; Joyce seems to hint at the issues and sometimes I felt too much was left for me to guess at. But while I didn’t love the stories themselves, I would highly recommend reading Joyce’s stories solely for the beautiful writing and careful character development. Reading the stories in Dubliners is an example to me that plot doesn’t necessarily make something I read “great”; good writing makes it great.
Could good writing make something great for you or does the plot also have to grab you? Would you read something just for the great character development and beautiful writing?
Until I picked up his volume of short-stories, I hadn’t thought I’d ever read James Joyce. He’s always intimidated me. To my surprise, I’d read one story, “Araby,” which had been assigned reading in my ninth-grade English class. It remains my favorite of Joyce’s stories because, just as at age 14, the main character’s frustrations and “unrequited crush” resonated with me. If you choose one of Joyce’s stories to read, I’d recommend “Araby.” As I said, much in the underlying plot is left to the reader to untangle, and yet, the characters, setting, and emotions are perfectly captured.
Have you read something as a teenager that still resonates with you today?
If you have reviewed Dubliners on your own site, leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it here.