For as long as I can remember, I have looked for signs and patterns; anything to help me navigate the impossible map that is the business of living.
And I have realised that my attempt to craft a narrative is little more than an attempt to discern patterns.
The author has determined my daily work of writing and teaching; he has also provided friends, colleagues, lovers, and once, a husband.
Even my social life is arranged around Joyce, anchored each month by a meeting of the once accused, ‘the most pretentious book club in Sydney’.)In many ways, Joyce has been my longest long-term relationship.
The great man’s shadow falls far and wide and writers, especially Irish ones, continually complain about the effort to crawl out from under it.
I am just one of many cowering under his monumental weight.
Abandoned, just as you abandoned Nora in a park in Paris after your elopement from Ireland. Thirteen is the number of years I’ve spent reading your final work. You were right again when you suggested one of the alternative titles for you said. And yet as you flew free, you left in your wake a gigantic net that thousands upon thousands have got caught up in. Networks, newsletters, conferences, symposiums, theses, dissertations, papers, institutes, foundations, centres, theatre pieces, adaptations, musicals, chapters, articles, essays, films, online elucidations, and hundreds upon hundreds of books. On the way home from school he heard readings of , and in the lounge room he heard rehearsals for Bloomsday.
In the meantime, I am left behind, having misspent my youth lost in your labyrinth, my looks squandered, alone with a pile of indecipherable books. ’Without hesitation, he answered: ‘She works for James Joyce.’Over the years, my son has heard a lot from his mother’s overbearing boss.
We met when I was sixteen and have been sweethearts ever since.
I would have liked to say that about a living man, the way famous writers do in their acknowledgements of their latest novel, thanking their ‘loving husband, without whose unceasing patience and support etc,etc’. Until I realised how annoying it must be to live in the shadow of another man, and a dead one at that.‘Writers are a scourge for those they cohabit with,’ says Edna O’Brien in her book on James Joyce.