Reading a book like Ulysses is interesting. It makes me realize how much skimming I do when I read. Although the book does have a plot and a progression, you really can’t stop paying attention for even a second, or you lose track of where and when you are and whose head you’re in. It’s a book that can only be read when you’re in possession of a lot of silence.
Normally books that were revolutionary in their day continue to sound revolutionary. I’m not sure why that is. For instance, I’ve never yet read anything quite like Orlando. But Ulysses isn’t quite like that. Many of its techniques–the fragmented sentences, the interlocking mosaic quality of the details, the frequent neologisms–feel really familiar, because they’ve been thoroughly assimilated into the canon.
For instance, Ulysses continually reminds me of Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter, which is also a very stream-of-consciousness book that takes place over a very compressed time period (a weekend). When I read that book, I was blown away by the heightened effect created by focusing on the hour by hour experience of this guy. It made even little things–a conversation, or a visit to a burger joint–into epic adventures. But the fact that I was blown away then, kind of prevents me from being quite as blown away now =)