In contemporary writing, it's conventional to put spoken words in quotation marks and thoughts in italics. This book would be much easier to read if Joyce had decided to take up that form, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of the way paragraphs flow in and out of characters' minds, separated only by periods and commas. Hard to follow though it may be, I love the writing in this book. It's rich, thick, almost musical, and produces a real fleshy sense of human life. It actually reminds me of the feeling I tend to get reading Neil Gaiman's writing, especially Neverwhere. This is better, though. Fewer moments where I trip up on the word-ness of the words. (Actually, pretty much none here.) It's so different from the aggressively plain American style.
It's very much not similar to my other favorite writer, Terry Pratchett, in which the cleverness of the words is one of the best parts about it, and you sort of trip into the human-ness of the story sideways. (Though you still very much get there. Or at least I do.)
Stephen Deadalus seemed tormented, by something guilt-like, if not guilt, in his past and his present failures. Leopold Bloom, on the other hand, while he doesn't seem to live in the moment, at least lives in the present abstract, constantly obsessing over the logistics of food production. It's a refreshing change.
...And then I reached page 61.
A dead sea in a dead land, grey and old. Old now. It bore the oldest, the first race. A bent hag crossed from Cassidy's clutching a noggin bottle by the neck. The oldest people. Wandered far away over all the earth, captivity to captivity, multiplying, dying, being born everywhere. It lay there now. Now it could bear no more. Dead: an old woman's: the grey sunken cunt of the world.
Well, that seems like a cheerful enough end to today's reading.