My daughter read the cover of the book in which I had my nose.
“Ulysses. What’s that book about?”
This is a question she asks about every book I’m reading. Usually I’m able to find some age-appropriate way to describe the plot of the book to her. Sometimes it works and sometimes it carries unintended consequences. Like when I was reading MaddAddam, and I explained that it’s a look at what the world would be like if people kept harming the world and then lots of people died at once and left the world to try and heal itself. She put her hand on my arm, looked into my eyes, and said, “Mommy, I will do everything in my power to keep that from happening.” I had to work hard to keep from both laughing and crying at her display of youthful sincerity.
James Joyce’s Ulysses has me stymied, though. I could just say it’s a modern-day retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, but so far, I’m not seeing that very clearly in the book and it seems misleading to describe it that way. Plus, she loves Greek mythology, and I wouldn’t want her to get excited and try to read Ulysses. Leopold Bloom’s fantasy life is a little too mature for my eight-year-old. It’s likely she wouldn’t understand the book (at least I hope she wouldn’t because it’s largely beyond me and I would rather wait just a few years to learn that my kids are smarter than I am), but if she opened the book at random, who knows what words would pop out at her.
Last time she asked about Ulysses, I told her about the chapter I was on and said it was about a bunch of men who work at a newspaper and talk with each other about their work at the newspaper. She’s not asked me what the book’s about since.
Who needs censorship when you can just make a book sound really boring?
Have you read Ulysses? How would you describe it to an eight-year-old?
If you haven’t read it, would you care to join my sister and me in reading it this month? There’s still time to join the read-along! Check out the kick-off post and read with us!