“Finnegan Joyce” – Fiction by Ron Kolm

James Joyce - Djuna Barnes, 1922
James Joyce – Djuna Barnes, 1922

From our Summer 2016 issue, “Finnegan Joyce” is Ron Kolm‘s funny & raunchy riff on the late great James Joyce.

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HELLO, HELLO, JAMES JOYCE HERE, but briefly, yes, the voice, yes, I know it doesn’t sound so very good, no, the voice does not fare well here in the dead zone — 0, and I used to be a tenor, such a beautiful tenor that they told me, more than once, yes, that I could have been a contender but don’t take my word for it, listen to the record, do they still have records?– it was a Finnegans Wake rap sort of thing, yes, as you can see I try to keep up — should have used more bass, a little sampling, be ok on the boombox then — but I’m pulling your leg, as if a shade could pull anything — because, now that I’m dead, I don’t have to protect the image I worked so hard to create — I’m finally free, I tell you — though I still rejoice at the number of academics who toil in its shadow — who till the field I manured so well — the me they think they know is a construct, only part of the story — James Joyce as Jesuit — James Joyce the aesthete — going slowly blind — grinding out the great creations in the face of insurmountable odds; misunderstanding, penury, censorship, the lovely chains of Ireland past and always present but, shit, what else could I do? — I was as trapped by the iron logic of my own work as any Joycean scholar — forget modernism, the fetter that bound me and, yes, broke me, was the notion of progress — I started small, a few poems, then moved on to short stories, well-crafted they were, too, and finally graduated, with my Portrait, to the novel — all well and good – I was on an upwards trending line on the graph of life, steadily ascending, and seeing the sense and shape of my literary output I made the big jump, the quantum leap, to ur-novel, the novel as encyclopedia, and the result was, of course, Ulysses — but that particular jump from the novel we all know and love to the thinner atmosphere of ‘Great Book’ is a tricky one, because where do you go from there?

The answer, as I gradually came to realize, was to pen scripture, to convince myself and others that I was no longer a mere mortal fooling around with the same words we all have access to but, in fact, that I was engaged in a sacred quest, the creation of Holy Writ, an incredibly dense, almost unreadable, compendium of everything known, the only book the ideal reader would ever need — and I also came to the realization that after I finished this thing I would have to die — it’s not like I could break out of the path I was on and do a cookbook, for Christ sakes! — so I took as long as I could to write and rewrite, to code and encode, my mad bible — seventeen years — and while I was doing this, other stuff kept happening, life doesn’t stop, and the real me kept seeping out and I tried so hard to keep that,stuff off to the side, but it’s all there anyway, impossible to hide, thank God the scholars mostly ignore real life, my poor mad daughter, Lucia, wanting to date that hanger-on, sad Sam Beckett — put a stop to that — and after dinner, when our guests sat at the table wanting to wring me dry, searching for clues to the meaning of my work, I blew their.minds instead.. Yes, I’d jump up and perform strange terpsichorean feats — yes, I’d pop my right leg up behind my head and grasp the foot with my left hand and hop wildly about, yes, then I’d scissor kick all over the fucking place, mentally trying to knock the smug smiles off their faces, cause they were all a bunch of assholes and, yes, speaking of assholes, I’m going to recite from memory, cause there isn’t much else to do after you die except memorize, a letter I wrote to my wife, Nora, while we were briefly separated in 1909, because it pleases me to do so:

My sweet little whorish Nora, I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter. I am delighted to see that you do like being fucked arseways. Yes, now I can remember that night when I fucked you for so long backwards. It was the dirtiest fucking I ever gave you, darling. My prick was stuck up in you for hours, fucking in and out under your upturned rump. I felt your fat sweaty buttocks under my belly and saw your flushed face and mad eyes. At every fuck I gave you your shameless tongue came bursting out through your lips and if I gave you a bigger stronger fuck than usual fat dirty farts came spluttering out of your backside. You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I fucked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to fuck a farting woman when every fuck drives one out of her. I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. Goodnight, my little farting Nora, my dirty little fuckbird!

And goodnight to you all, goodnight, goodnight.

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Ron Kolm Photo by Arthur KayeRON KOLM is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin magazine. He’s the author of The Plastic Factory, Divine Comedy and Suburban Ambush. Duke & Jill, a collection of short stories, has just been published by Unknown Press. He’s had work in Have A NYC 3, Live Mag! and the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Ron’s papers were purchased by the NYU library, where they’ve been cataloged in the Fales Collection as part of the Downtown Writers Group.


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