It's rare that a classic of world literature is set on one particular calendar date. Maybe that's why June 16, the day on which James Joyce's Ulysses is set (1904 edition), also known as "Bloomsday" has achieved such immortality. Well, that and its main character Leopold Bloom spends much of the novel getting drunk. After he passes out, his wife Molly gives herself the most beautiful orgasm in the history of the English language. What's not to celebrate?
The world's preeminent Bloomsday celebrations are, of course, in Dublin, Ireland, the novel's setting, but other cities like to get in on the action, too: Buenos Aires, Brussels, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, hell, even Buffalo and Kansas City, have all planned festivities for this year. (Spokane, Washington, has a Bloomsday, too, but that's a race. And it's in May.)
And St. Louis?
Well, Webster Groves has a big sign reading "Welcome Bloomsday Judges," which gave us hope. But it turns out they're only welcoming judges for the America in Bloom competition. No doubt Webster has the most beautiful flowers of any town in America. But what about James Joyce? Anyone? Anyone?
There's a, Irish band from Bloomington, Illinois, called Bloomsday. But their next show is July 9.
Daily RFT asked Danielle Bosch, the events coordinator at Left Bank Books, if she'd heard about any Bloomsday festivities. She wrote back in an e-mail: "I asked around the store and no one knows of anything going on for Bloomsday. We've even gotten a few calls from people looking for Bloomsday activities. Apparently, we used to always do something but haven't for a few years now. Maybe we'll need to start again for next year!"
Truly, we expected more from a city that staged a two-day reading of Ovid's Metamorphoses.
There's always the option of trying to read through all 736 pages in one day. Or you could tune in to Radio Bloomsday on wbai.org, which will broadcast famous actors doing readings from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Alas, you must provide your own beer.
If anybody knows of something going on here, please plug your event in the comments.