Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
The most accessible of Joyce's works
on 15 August 2008
This is the first of Joyce's works, and the most accessible. A series of short stories written about the citizens of Dublin going about their daily business, from a woman working in a laundry house to the experiences of a man going to his aunt's Christmas party, he takes the ordinary and somehow infuses it with a sense of sacredness and spirituality that are uniquely Joycean.
These stories are like snapshots in time. We drop in to the person's world and get access to their thoughts and experiences, but there is no omniscient narrator to explain things or underline stuff. We are there, and then we aren't. We make of his pictures what we will. The writing is highly evocative and full of the sights and smells of the time. Joyce never shies away from the repellent aspects of human nature, the dirt, the grime, the questionable sexuality, the hypocrisy of religion, and yet he butts it up against decency, sacrifice, honour and love.
It is raw, visceral writing and an excellent way to introduce yourself to what is to come, a reader for the monstrous Ulysses and a forerunner to The Portrait of the Artist. Necessary for anyone interested in understanding Joyce and getting a handle on his work.