I finished reading Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I'm not recommending it, but if you want to read it, make sure to get an edition that has good notes so you can decipher some of the allusions, the Irish dialect, and the Latin which litters the text. I had some advantages reading this book. I know a medium amount about Ireland, Catholicism, and what the Irish do with English. Still, I found myself checking the notes quite a bit.
The novel combines a stream of consciousness technique with a lot of naturalistic detail. I found it hard to keep my bearings in the stream of consciousness, and hard to plow through the naturalistic detail. There isn't a plot, exactly, but there is a through-line to the story: the writer's liberation from the psychological confines of his family, religion, and schooling. At least, that's how I read it.
Joyce does write beautifully at times:
"His heart danced upon her movements like a cork upon the tide."
"A veiled sunlight lit up faintly the grey sheet of water where the river was embayed. In the distance along the course of the slow-flowing Liffey slender masts flecked the sky and, more distant still, the dim fabric of the city lay prone in haze."
Despite his gift of gab
I found the story drab.