Sometimes, curiosity will get the best of me. A strange attraction to something new — a particular (and often peculiar) food, drink, author, musician — will emerge and the craving will not be denied. Mostly, this works out. I've got a large appetite for new experiences in these areas and my instincts rarely let me down.
Quite often I get asked how it is that I came to discover this or that musician. "Bern Nix? Never heard of him!" "Marc Ribot? Never heard of him either?" The truth is that many times these people are not nearly as obscure as you'd think. Usually, I discover them by either reading liner notes or doing a little research to uncover who the side musicians are on some recording that I'm fond of. Simple as that. Then I just roll the dice and look for records under those names. Do this for twenty years and your shelves will be groaning just like mine.
But James Joyce... now there is a big fat enigma. I've said many times that I'm very familiar with the first five or so pages of Ulysses because I've read them about ten times. That's where the wall of "What the hell is he talking about?" is encountered. So a rational person might think that I'd lost my mind last Saturday when I walked into the bookshop and bought a copy of something even more 'difficult' — Finnegans Wake.
Is this book the world's most famous literary practical joke? I doubt it. Joyce clearly knew what he was doing. Maybe the man just had too much knowledge in his head and this was a way of releasing the pressure. After reading the introduction, it's at least reassuring to know that many people are content to open the book to a random spot to see what they can find. More fundamental than that: "One of the more interesting features of Finnegans Wake is that it even encourages the expansion of our understanding of what exactly it means — or can mean — to read."