I've been tagged by Theresa Williams to share my list of "Seven Things."
Grr. Hmm. Rather than responding immediately, I'm going to think about this. A while.
But while I'm thinking, I'm issuing a challenge to the three bloggers involved: Theresa of Theresa Williams-author, Beth of Beth's Front Porch, and Vicky of My Incentive.
If they pull this off, I'll attend and post an invitation to the readers of my blog. What a birthday party that would be.
My Joyce Challenge contains the following elements:
a) Hosting my 43rd birthday party at an Irish pub, their choice, somewhere in the British Isles;
b) Drinking a lot of Guinness over the course of the event;
c) Reciting aloud -- the three of you as performers -- "Anna Livia Plurabelle" in its entirety from Finnegans Wake;
d) Providing live music by the English quartet Arethusa Oboe Quartet, who would be hired to play only Philip Martin music, concluding with Martin's companion piece to this memorable chapter.
1) I've never heard any of Philip Martin's music, but I think it's cool that he wrote an entire, ten-minute companion piece (commissioned by this quartet, and based on Joyce's "Plurabelle" chapter);
2) This is not entirely my idea.
I once responded to a similar challenge in 1996, during my graduate work at Lincoln College, Bread Loaf School of English. My boyhood friend Laban Coblentz made this public reading a condition for his visit.
I agreed. He flew over. The two of us took the ferry to Ireland, spent the weekend roaming the Emerald Isle, and ended it all by missing our ferry. We responded by reading the above chapter in a crowded Dublin pub.
3) Vicky, because of your known Scottish feelings on this very sensitive national subject, I'm giving you a geographic veto -- it doesn't need to take place in Ireland, but it does need to take place on the British Isles.
ONE MOMENT THAT STANDS OUT FROM MY 1996 EXPERIENCE:
I'm sitting at a small table, reading, trying to concentrate on Joyce's wondrous language. My half-empty, third pint of Guinness rests in front of me.
By the way, if you've tried to recite the piece, you'll know that it takes utter concentration.
Laban spots a wizened old lady come up behind me, looking confused.
She's probably thinking, "What the heck is this lad doing? Reading from a book in the midst of a packed pub?"
She looks over my shoulder. Sees that I'm reading Joyce. A smile comes over her face.
She totters away.
Around us, a host of geriatrics sings ancient Irish tunes.
Each sounds drunker than the last.
LABAN'S MEMORIES DIFFER SOMEWHAT FROM MINE...
I remember the Anna Livia moment well, Laban said. I would only have changed one thing about your account of the singers in the bar. I would have said: Each sounds drunkerer than the last. Just the way I remembered it ...
Don't forget the bottle of purloined wine sitting on cobblestones under the Joyce tower we couldn't break into at night, he added. I'm not sure if there were really cobblestones, but that's the way my ass remembers the moment.