genre: short story
On any given day in any given city, millions of people are going about their business - having parties, working (or not), enjoying an evening at the pub, caring for their children, arguing about politics making arrangements for one problem or another. In Dubliners, we sneak into the lives of a chosen few who, for better or for worse, have Dublin as their home. We are only exposed to little snippets of their experience but from that glimpse we can glean much of what life was like for the poorer class in the day.
These aren't really pretty stories, so much. They are coarse, often in dialect that can make the reading require a bit more brainpower (I actually started off listening to the audiobook but it was too hard to follow the story in the brogue so I switched to the ebook). They are sometimes uncomfortable stories, as people realize how many of their dreams are unfulfilled or how little they have that they want. Yes, a lot of drinking and drunkenness, a lot of men who wish they'd been poets and women who are impatient or conniving. In between you can find music and friendship and joviality around a pint. There are some lovely turns of phrase and Joyce does know how to paint a scene or especially paint a character. He is very descriptive of his characters, particularly faces, as though it is very important for us to be able to imagine his characters in our heads. By the end, I felt like I'd dipped my foot into turn of the century Dublin (well, at least into the depraved parts).
One thing I didn't love was how abrupt they ended, nearly all of them and almost always without the little zing that short stories can have, where things are turned on their heads (a la Flannery O'Connor and O. Henry). The ending usually left me feeling like instead of it ending, I just turned the tv off, if that makes sense, as if the story was still going on somewhere and I just wasn't privy to it. I didn't love that.
Regardless, while this wasn't pleasurable or easy reading, I am glad it's under my belt now.