Hailing Dublin’s Favorite Son

By Kathy Noonan

   James Joyce enthusiasts will commemorate the author’s life and his novel “Ulysses” on Saturday at a Bloomsday celebration at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor. A “Joyce-inspired performance”  with Joyce portrayed by Mark Singer, an actor and vocalist, will be part of it.
    “Ulysses” follows the events of an ordinary day in the life of the fictional character Leopold Bloom in his home city of Dublin. The title refers to the hero of Homer’s “Odyssey,” and there are parallels between characters and events in both works.
    Bloom is the only child of a Hungarian-Jewish father and an Irish-Protestant mother. The novel shows every aspect of his life and personality, positive as well as negative, and follows him from 8 a.m. on June 16 to the early hours of June 17, 1904.
    Joyceans celebrate Bloomsday each year on June 16 with re-enactments, performances, readings, and other events. It is believed that Joyce chose June 16 to commemorate the day of his first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle.
    The first Bloomsday celebration took place in Ireland in 1954 on the 50th anniversary of Leopold’s now-famous day. Two writers, Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien, visited locations from the book, reading parts of it and drinking at pubs along the way. It is said that the original celebration ended when the writers became too drunk and began to heatedly debate the novel’s meaning.
    Last year, for the first time, thousands of Bloomsday enthusiasts followed @11ysses on Twitter as “Ulysses” was summarized and tweeted 140 characters at a time. Each tweet represented eight pages of the book.
    The South Fork has been home to many Irish immigrants and, of course, numerous writers. “There is a sense of the idyllic, of the melding of Old World with the New that draws writers here,” said Douglas Light, who will be reading from his novel “East Fifth Bliss” at the Bloomsday celebration.
    John McCaffrey, a writer with family roots in Wainscott, will also read. “My grandmother and grandfather came from Ireland and found a lasting home on the eastern end of Long Island,” he said. “The work that I’m going to read is about my grandparents and about their assimilation here.”
    Mr. McCaffrey said he plans to get into the spirit at Canio’s by wearing an Edwardian costume. “I encourage everyone to” dress in costume, he said. “We just want people to come and have a good time.” The free event starts at 5 p.m.