Daily Archives: September 18, 2008

Randy-James Joyce YES.

My fascination with James Joyce began twenty years ago. I had read A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN in college, but I didn’t pay much attention to it then. Long after that I picked up ULYSSES; that was when my journey began.

Joyce offered me every style imaginable, and more. The author I got to know was challenging, daring, and ponderous but never boring or stale. One could get lost in him; on the other hand (for someone touted to have written the greatest novel of the century) Joyce always emerged in a way that kept my interest; if not by his content, his use of form and language served as a guide. Joyce didn’t stick to the rules; his prose was rarely neat. He was wild, without regard to punctuation, grammar, and wasn’t afraid of very long phrases. (I was tempted to use “sentences” here, but sentences were too limiting for Joyce.)

At age fifty I started writing novels. When I discovered Joyce around the same time, it is fair to say I copied him. He gave me freedom, and I thought of him as a mentor, the very best. So this business of copying Joyce…though it suggested plagiarism, I worked very hard to cover my tracks…always seemed to me to be dangerous. It seemed to me that Randy Ford could get lost. But it must have suited me because I kept coming back to it.

There was always the chance of being found out. So I freely admit it, but unless convinced otherwise I don’t think it is wrong. My relying on Joyce…if indeed it has become a crutch…remains central to me. I believe I could write without Joyce, just as I can write without Faulkner or any other writer, but I don’t think I want to. But maybe I’m fooling myself. The differences between Joyce and me are so obvious, our comings and goings, and our nationalities, that there shouldn’t be a question here. For example, my THE GOOD OL’ BOYS was set in Texas, the characters spoke Texan, and yet the tale was obviously Joyce. Yeah, Joyce. And I hope also it was Randy Ford. You be the judge. Bring it on.

Good night, Randy Ford


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