Thursday, July 10, 2014

What to read in prison: James Joyce's Ulysses and 1,045 more

SOMETHING TO READ about reading: A Prisoner's Reading List by Alex Halberstadt, published at the New Yorker blog. It's a feature on Daniel Ganis who finished 1,046 books during his ten years in prison. Roughly 105 books a year, or nine books a month. He was charged with theft, which he did badly, according to the blog. Maybe that was why he was caught.

His reading list included Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Pascal, Schopenhauer, Chabon, Lethem, and, yes, Proust—all of the seven volumes of Marcel Proust's works! His father, the author Alexander Ganis, sent him James Joyce's Ulysses, or else he “wouldn't have the willpower to get through it once he became a free man.”

I never did finish Ulysses myself. My English professor recommended him to me when I asked him what book he'd want me to read. After I strove to make progress with the work, I had to return my copy to the library and confess to my professor that I didn't get it, the book that critics call a monumental work of literary genius. Sir said, "Oh, don't worry about that. I didn't get it the first time myself. But read it when you're older, and you'll appreciate it more." My professor never told me to go to prison.



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