There are books, and there are 'books', literary accomplishments that set them apart from the rest, that stand out like shining beacons of light on a hilltop, or a cliff's edge, or somewhere lofty like that.
You know what I mean.
'Ulysses' by James Joyce is one of those books, a tour de force in literary history, written between 1914 and 1921, and published in 1922, when very few people appreciated the book for what it was.
But what was it? Or, for that matter, what is it?
Moys Kenwood, 55, who reads a lot, decided to find out, and purchased the book from the Smiling Sky Bookshop in Battambang just before it closed down last November.
Having left it a while to savor, and whet his appetite, the bookworm finally commenced reading last weekend when his wife had gone to the central Battambang market to purchase the requisites she needs to undertake the sale of barbecued chicken on skewers to the general public.
He opened the book and noticed with disdain that the introduction was more than a hundred pages long. This was not a good sign. The content made him aware that this was not going to be a 'normal read'. By the time he had waded through Chapters 1, 2, and 3, which contains many obscure references and foreign phrases, he'd had enough. It's now back on the shelf.
"My head was swimming. Joyce was obviously a clever fellow - way too clever for the likes of somebody like me. I'd already read his 'Dubliners' and 'A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man', but this was different."
"It was a big book. Just holding it up was hurting my arms. I placed it on the table, but found that it wouldn't stay open on its own due to it having so many pages, and I had to hold the pages open. Eventually, however, I got cramp from staying in the same position too long, and had to readjust. My fingers and thumbs hurt, and my wrists were aching. It was too much."
Joyce is credited with having written a book that broke many moulds, and smashed down doors with 'Ulysses', leaving the way for other uninhibited writers to bloom in his wake.
But the bookworm said:
"I found it heavy going. My copy weighed nearly 350 grams - even more than 'Moby Dick'! I'll have to get in shape before I tackle it again!"