Bowdoin Reads

Tad Macy, Senior Software Developer, is reading...

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
by James Joyce

I confess. I "read" audiobooks. My workaday commute from Portland gives me a lot of time for listening. Not only do I feel that I make productive use of the commuting time, but I find that I can catch up on works that seem to keep slipping off the top of my reading list. This is especially true for denser texts, Henry James or Charles Dickens, for example. A notable recent read was Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce -- a work considered to be among the very best and innovative in the English language. It's voiced by film writer and producer, John Lee, whose skill and Irish brogue add a wonderful quality to a masterful work. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a story, probably autobiographical, of young Stephen Daedalus growing to manhood within the rigorous Catholic and Irish conventions of the late 19th century. Stephen is a likable, earnest, perceptive and questioning lad. Through his experiences his bright mind leads him to become suspect of the religious and societal beliefs to which those near to him honor and cling. As he matures, he begins to rebel against these conventions and develop his own philosophy. His story is intimately detailed and lively with Joyce singling out and bringing into sharp focus the thoughts of Stephen while filling the senses with the atmosphere of a moment or place. At times the work is mesmerizing. Sections flow so lyrically that one has to marvel at Joyce's genius. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has immediately become one of my favorite books. I will it read again and again. Since listening to it, I've taken the book from my bookshelf, dusted it off, and reread many passages. If you haven't tried audiobooks, you might find them very rewarding. It's hard to recall which way I "read" them. And, many genres are available. I've enjoyed audiobooks of fiction, non-fiction, best sellers, and scholarly lecture series.

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