Lauren John actually hated the novel that changed her life. Here’s her Perspective, part of KQED’s collaboration with PBS on ‘The Great American Read’.
On June 16, 1904, in Dublin, Ireland a fictional salesman named Leopold Bloom woke up and fed the cat. It was a simple act in what was about to become a very complex day.
In January 1975, at a college in upstate New York, the very real 17-year-old me read about Bloom’s adventures. The novel was ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce—and it changed my life. Never mind that I hated ‘Ulysses’ and still do. I changed because I dared to read a book that people smarter than me have called the best and most difficult novel ever written in the English language.
I knew that there was going to be a class focused solely on ‘Ulysses’, but wanted to avoid it. James Joyce was for the English majors who were already published at age 15, had been to Europe and could balance a wine glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
But then Ron, my editor on the student newspaper, asked if I was going to enroll.