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Things you know you should like

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Every couple of years or so I make another attempt to read James Joyce’s Ulysses. I do this because so many other writers I esteem think it’s the greatest novel ever written. I do it because I’m a writer and I should have read this book. I do it, because I first picked up a copy in 1979 at University and I’ve still never finished the damn thing. (It’s not that I’m reading a rat-eared copy or anything like that. I’ve got a beautiful Folio society edition bound in Greek Blue and Gold. It’s lovely. It’s sumptuous. It’s… unreadable.)

Maybe it’s a cultural blindspot, but there are other greats who simply leave me cold. The films of Martin Scorsese. The paintings of Picasso. Jane Austen. As I write this I’m listening to Bob Dylan’s [Blonde on Blonde->] album. And, thirty years after I first heard it, I still don’t get it. I’m trying, really I am. It’s not that I don’t think they’re any good. I just don’t think they’re as great as everyone says they are.

Then, again, people are strange. Sometimes people tell me that the don’t like the Beatles. How can you not like the Beatles? How can anyone fail to appreciate the greatest pop band in the history of music? How can anyone not like Dickens? Or the films of [Powell and Pressburger->]? Or Shakespeare?

They must be mad.