Finnegans Wake contains the smartest dick jokes of ALL TIME. Reading it is like following an unbelievably bending road for hours at a time before sitting back, sighing, and realizing you just drove in a Dick-shaped circle. As a writer, James Joyce is like that guy from your highschool that would take the really advanced AP Physics classes and then turn around and break out laughing hysterically whenever someone farted. He only wrote a handful of books, but those he did write changed the tenor, range, and domain of the published word in ways we’re still understanding today. I like James Joyce.
- Ulysses – Do you think I’m not going to start with Ulysses? How would you not start this list with Ulysses? What the fuck is wrong with you? Ulysses is a staggering diamond of incalculable worth in an abandoned world of feces. If, in a million million years from now, aliens were to come to this world and demanded us to prove our worth the only thing we would need to give them is a copy of Ulysses and they would see, in those pages, the worth and potential of all that is human.
- Finnegans Wake – Ever gotten wine-drunk at a ballet? That’s what Finnegans Wake is like. There’s a central narrative conceit, or at least a central string to pull, but it’s all presented in a way that is simultaneously alienating and enticing, drawing you away and pulling you in, teaching you a language you’ll never speak. You watch the motions of the prose and you drink your wine, unsure of where its going and from whence it came.
- A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man – It’s a classic but kind of a lesser classic. The whole novel is kind of a party trick, drawing you in with simplistic prose and watching as it ages with Stephen, taking you on a journey as temporal as it is forward moving. When I finished the novel I thought nothing and sighed and said to myself: “Well, that was cute.”
- Exiles – You ever watch Michael Jordan play baseball? It’s weird. It’s weird as hell. He shouldn’t be playing Baseball, homie should be dribbling. The fuck is this? He’s not very good at it. Stop Mike stop! That’s what it is like reading James Joyce’s play.
- Dubliners – This is the Joyce book for dumb people. This is the book I recommend to my friends that are as pretentious as they are stupid. It’s a simple beach-read, the work of an author still finding his voice and form, and it shows in the overly simple, generally bland work of boring. If Exiles is Michael Jordan playing Baseball, then Dubliners is Michael Jordan first learning contemporary dribbling theory.