Some weeks ago, my brother Jim asked me, "so is this James Joyce any good?" -- which is an odd question, coming from a person who Enjoys Reading. But he was a history major, and never got exposed to any Dubliners when he was a young man. Turns out he'd run across Finnegans Wake, and thought, oh, I've heard of this, it's by that James Joyce guy. And then he bought it. And then he tried to read it. And then he stopped.
I've got a bucket list of books I want to read before I die -- finished War and Peace; am in the middle of the 12 volume unabridged Clarissa -- and Finnegans Wake is not on it. I will happily go to my grave with Finnegans Wake unread. Perhaps one of my loved ones who would find it hilarious -- Jim comes to mind -- can read it to me when I'm on my death bed. Perferably when I'm in a coma.
At any rate. I put together an unbirthday present for him of Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and that Burgess book ReJoyce, as a sort of helpful how to get through Ulysses guide, and had amazon.com send it off.
For reasons unknown to us, they divided the books into two batches. And though the site said that indeed Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners got delivered, Jim never saw them.
This happens sometimes, when the postperson leaves packages at his door, cause in the Albuquerque apartment building where he lives, sometimes his fellow tenants seize opportunities when they find them, and a box from amazon.com caught somebody's eye, and the package got delivered, all right, but somebody else is reading Jim's books. Or decorating the trash with them.
I had amazon send some more, and they got to Jim safely.
But I do dearly love the thought of someone stealing a treasure box -- things you can sell! maybe eat! whatever! -- and discovering that alas, what they've got is James Joyce.
Makes me almost which I'd send some Beckett instead. That would be even funnier.