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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ulysses / Odyssey book club

I'm doing a Ulysses / Odyssey book club this year. "Ulysses" as in Ulysses by James Joyce and "Odyssey" as in the epic tale by Homer that provides the structure for Joyce's book.
We're reading both of them simultaneously. Pick any editions you want but I'll be reading the 1961 translation of Joyce's book and probably the Fitzgerald or Fagles version of Homer's tale. In addition I'm already reading Gareth Hinds' graphic novel of The Odyssey with my kids (ages 4 and 7). It's very cool. This past summer we read part of the Odyssey adaption by Mary Pope Osborne (yes, of Magic Tree House fame) and they got hooked. I got hooked as well, both by reading MPO to them at bedtime and by working on some Joyce-related music for an Irish lit professor who asked me to sing some songs in her classroom.

I'm going to use Joyce's book as a guide for our schedule. His Ulysses has 18 "books," which divides up to 3 every two months. So read about 3 books every two months + the corresponding passages of Homer and we'll meet -- online and in person. Did I mention this is a musical book club? It is. We'll be singing most of the songs we come across in Joyce's book and writing some more based on Homer. If you live in or near Brooklyn you can do this with me in person but if you don't you can do it with me on YouTube.

Yeah, this is a big undertaking. But if what your Facebook and Twitter avatars are saying is any indication, it seems you folks have a lot of time on your hands that you mostly spend taking pictures of plates of food and watching cable TV. So just eat a little less (or don't waste time taking pictures of what you eat), watch a little less of that critically-acclaimed series television and you'll have plenty of time for my club.

This is not a literary club. Although I do have an annotated companion to my Ulysses that is as long as the book itself, I'll only be consulting it haphazardly and our discussions, both real and virtual, will be very free-wheeling and focused on whatever we think is fun to talk about in relation to the books.

Get your kids involved! The graphic novel and the Mary Pope Osborne versions are well done and provide a great way for you to have a real family book club.

Go! First meeting sometime in late February.