Monday, March 03, 2008

Reader's Diary #332- James Joyce: Araby

Short Story Monday

Cross posted at The Short Story Reading Challenge.

James Joyce's "Araby" from his collection The Dubliners, is a brilliant coming-of-age story. How does Joyce manage to do this convincingly in a few short pages when it takes some novelists an entire book? Such stories detail the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and the length depends on whether or not the author can prove this happens over a course of events or can be learned through a single lesson.

In "Araby," Joyce asserts that the crucial lesson is the realization that fantasies don't, or at least they rarely, measure up to reality. This moral comes suddenly at the end, and at first I was taken aback by the abruptness. But, after contemplating it a little more, I think that made it more effective. It not only captures the intensity of the new awareness, it also parallels ejaculation. Joyce not-so-subtly hints at masturbation several times throughout this story and what is that but the ultimate symbol of fantasy versus reality?

The Soundtrack:
1. I Go Blind- 54-40
2. I Touch Myself (Divinyls cover)- Scala Choir
3. Catch The Wind (Donovan choir)- The Irish Descendants
4. The Sheik of Araby- The Beatles
5. Wake Up- Arcade Fire

In other short story news, my micro story "Straight Flush" appears at Six Sentences. I made one small edit since submitting it and the most recent version appeared here on my own blog a few weeks back.


Anne Camille said...

I read Araby years ago and loved it. I've re-read it several times and am always glad that I did. I liked it so much, that I put off reading anything else in The Dubliners for a long time. I didn't want to be disappointed if this was the only great story in the bunch (obviously I'm not impressed or persuaded by an author's reputation!) But then I read The Dead and realized that I could never be forced to choose one of these stories as my most favorite!

John Mutford said...

I've been hearing about the craziness that was Finnegans Wake, that I've been nervous (albeit curious) about reading any Joyce. I figured getting my feet wet with a short story was a good idea. And while I'm ready to dive in, from what I hear, it won't be at all similar...