From Frank's mouth to your ear
The relationship between a writer and a reader is a quintessential form of human intimacy. When the words of a writer are spoken with care and with craft, this feeling is multiplied manyfold. That is what I love most about Re:Joyce, a one-of-a-kind retelling of James Joyce’s Ulysses. From Frank Delaney’s mouth to your ear, this experience offers welcome companionship to anyone interested in what happens Tuesday the 16th of June, 1904, on the streets of Dublin, Ireland. While much has been said about Frank Delaney’s eloquence--and his mellifluous brogue--it is Frank’s humor and humanity that holds me in the dark hours of early morning. I choose to listen to these podcasts when I awake too early and find myself in that deep crevasse between sleeping and waking while the mind is still unmoored by its dreams and the world has not quite resolved into the day we are about to live. Frank recommends you follow along on the printed page as he recites the text and glosses its many synaptic allusions. Having already read the book on paper a couple of times, I can say that is sound advice. And maybe someday I will follow it. But this first time around with Frank, I have permitted my mind’s eye free reign, undistracted by the over-efforting of my eye’s mind. Truth be told, I crave the pure hedonistic pleasures and comforts of Frank’s obliging company as he relays to me Joyce’s synecdoche of a time and a place where one day some citizens got up and got out and lived and breathed... only to live and breath again and again when someone picks up the book or downloads this podcast.What Frank once said about Joyce could be said about his own efforts to make this book accessible to all: “Above all, Joyce taught every writer the importance of naturalistic dialogue; with his fine tenor voice Joyce knew better than most that we read not with the eye but with the ear.”-HAVE FAITH- It takes Frank a dozen or more episodes to get the format right. So please bear with him. But once he wins the attention of a patron willing to back his efforts, he finds his rhythm and the episodes stretch out.--SPOILER ALERT-- Notwithstanding the book’s 265,222 words, nothing really happens in Ulysses. But we can say the same about most days lived by most people despite all the hours spent doing and going, wondering and toiling. (We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries precisely because most days pass by unnoticed at the time and unremembered soon after.) This book stirs love and hate--not to mention confusion and annoyance--precisely because Joyce’s project is is to make a whole lot of something out of a whole lot of nothing. (Confession: I don’t know why I continue returning to this book, and I scarcely ever recommend anybody else read it. And yet for all the reasons that reason cannot know, I keep taking picking it up over and over again year after year.) And so my spoiler has nothing to do with the plot of the book. It has to do with Frank’s Folly. He began his weekly podcasts in 2010. A year into this enterprise, he had analyzed only the first of the book’s 18 episodes. Deconstructing the entire book at that rate, he estimated then, would take another 30 years. He was already in his early 70s when he set out. Do the math. A sudden stroke took him away in 2017. I wept when I heard the news. The next morning I downloaded another episode and let him read to me.
Reviewed on Apple Podcasts