They say that if you want to start reading Joyce, begin with "Dubliners". It's said to be his most realistic work, one that is not difficult to grasp - but one that gives a good introduction to Joyce's writing.

So, I picked this book up in Dublin this summer (how symbolical :-), and now I finally got to reading it.

"Dubliners" is a very short book (~160 pages), further divided into several short stories (most of them less than 10 pages long). The stories present fragments from the lives of various people in Dublin of the late 19th - early 20th century. There's nothing special about these people, just regular citizens of Dublin - from young boys, to old aunts, priests, drunkards and disgruntled clerks. With this, Joyce (to my best understanding) tries to reflect the lives of people in Dublin of that era.

The book is somewhat depressing overall. I don't recall any truly "happy" stories - all of them have some melancholic twist. Besides, the author focuses on Dublin's depressing weather - rain and gray skies are present in almost all of the stories.

One thing to notice about this book is the writing style. It's absolutely beautiful - I don't have any specific examples at the moment, but Joyce's command of the English language is truly superb (I also don't remember when was the last time I looked in a dictionary reading a book in English...) - the sentences are sometimes full of hidden meanings and make you stop for a few moments, ruminating.

I'll definitely want to get on with reading Joyce. I also have the "Portait of an artist as a young man" on my shelf. If I like that, I'll try to plunge into the heavier works - like Ulysses.