Tag Archives: James Joyce


“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few are to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” –Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

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Carlos Ruiz Zafon [born 25 September 1964, in Barcelona, Spain] is a Spanish novelist who began his working life by making money in advertising.  In the 1990s Ruiz Zafón moved to Los Angeles where he worked briefly in screen writing.  He had written some young adult fiction and young adult novels.  Yet in 2001 he published his first adult novel La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), a Gothic mystery that involves Daniel Sempere’s quest to track down the man responsible for destroying every book written by author Julian Carax.  The novel has sold millions of copies worldwide and more than a million copies in the UK alone.  Since its publication, La sombra del viento has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won many international awards.

By 2017 he had completed four novels in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, the last being The Labyrinth of Spirits (original title: El laberinto de los espíritus), initially released on 17 November 2016 in Spain and Latin America.  HarperCollins published the English translation by Lucia Graves, releasing on September 18, 2018.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s works have been published in 45 countries and have been translated into more than 40 different languages.  [More in Wikipedia and found on Google Search]

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“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his [or her] heart.  Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later–no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget–we will return.  For me those enchanted pages will always be the ones I found among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.”  Daniel in The Shadow of the Wind


The first book that found its way into my heart is/was _____.

“Of all that I have read, . . . The Robe, The Human Comedy [8th grade]; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man [high school]; Othello [college] . . ..”

“And the Winner, #1, is . . . no doubt: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce 

*** Please, refresh your memory, fill in the blank, have some great memoriesofatime.




“What we call the beginning is often the end / And to make an end is to make a beginning.  / The end is where we start from.”  –T. S. Eliot

“The past is never dead.  In fact it’s not even past.”  –William Faulkner

“…these statements express the realization that we can never access the body of the past, the physical experience that people now dead once felt in the very fiber of their bodies.  But we can also nevernot want to access that past, to think, imagine, and write our way back to an imagination of what those bodies must have felt [Walt Whitman’s referring to the Civil War dead].  Often our own past feels this way, too–we recall feeling pain or horror or terror, but it is difficult to ‘get it in the books,’  to write it so that others can experience in their bodies what we felt in ours (or so that we can once again feel what we know we once felt).  Writers often experience most keenly this notion that ‘the past is never dead’ and that we are always starting at the end.’”  [IWP © The University of Iowa 2012-2016]

MEMORIESOFATIME  are often written about past events which caused the writer to feel intensely and deeply and physically, then described in such a way emphasizing what the body felt–words being used to bring a dead past alive.

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”  –Corrie Ten Boom

“Fear not for the future, weep not for the past.”  –Percy Bysshe Shelley

“There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present.”  ….  “Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.” –James Joyce

“We can’t let the past be forgotten.”  –George Takei

“The destruction of the past is perhaps the greatest of all crimes.”  –Simone Weil

© James F. O’Neil 2016 

By: James F. O’Neil

Shredding the past can be traumatic: a violent act.  Placing a special document, such as a letter of application or a letter of resignation–or a letter presenting some award or gift–into a machine, then hearing the gears and chopping blades turn a piece of paper into cute, ruffled shredded-paper-documents-600x400strips of nondescript pieces of chaff, with now-unintelligible markings that looked like some ancient alphabets, can hurt.       

What was once a flat piece of 8 ½” x 11” or 11” x 14” now    becomes colored fluff,  expanded, with new life, now taking up more space, and more volume in a large black trash bag.   to be received unceremoniously, un-holily, by “The Garbage Men.”   

(Photo courtesy:

“The horror!  The horror!”

When I planned to retire, I knew the inevitable: I had to clean out and vacate the office I had for twenty years.  While an office occupier, I became the Collector, the Accumulator, the Filing Expert, the Organizer, the Archivist, a Librarian for many years.  During that twenty-year period, I had accumulated

  • A thousand books
  • Files and papers enough to fill five large 40-gallon trash barrels which I personally carted to the dumpster
  • Eighteen bankers’ boxes of “stuff.”

And what to do with “stuff”?  Books could be given away, donated, re-shelved at home.

But the stuff?

Class notes from college, course outlines, lecture notes, correspondences, newspaper and magazine clippings and articles, my term papers dating back to 1959, including a paper on the G.I. Bill, one on Fleming and penicillin, another on Froebel, the founder of the kindergarten.  [My C+ paper from graduate school on James Joyce and water imagery, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, was thrown away.]

These papers had to be preserved in memoriam, et in saecula saeculorum: forever! 

It could not happen: I had to shred that “stuff.”

So I shredded, while watching old movies or football or whatever was available to me to distract me from the task at hand: destroying history.  Hours and hours of shredding, placing the fluff into those unmarked black plastic trash bags–33-gallon, for sure–then neatly piling the bags at the curb to await their fate at the hands of Waste Management. 

When the truck and its three workers arrived, I felt guilty for giving them so much un-normal work to do.  I helped them toss away some of my past by picking up and flinging a bag or two.  (The bags were not all that heavy, despite some philosophy and psychology within their contents.)  Then, as if magically, the piles disappeared.  I could not watch as the truck pulled away.

I was not yet finished, though.  In the next few weeks, I had a second and then a third shredding, the last pile of “stuff” put down into the awaiting jaws of the killing machine.  I did the shredding slowly, nostalgically, pensively, silently–except for the sound of The Shredder: for two minutes at a time, to overheating, then the quiet of the four-minute auto shut-off.  Then more chewing and grinding and swallowing.  Little by little, the deed was done.

I thought it would be more painful, but it was not.  In fact, it was not painful at all–except when I had to clean out paper jams caught in the tiny blades, and scratched or nicked my fingers.  No pain at all, generally.  I felt mostly satisfaction, and relief.  As I looked at the fluffed piles of my life that I gently emptied from shredder into the trash bags, a sense of calm came over me: A full life, bagged, tied, and waste managed.

Like Forrest Gump often says, “That’s all I’m gonna say about that.”

But about those undergraduate and graduate papers I wrote?  The ones with red ink, grades, and maybe some comments?  Maybe I should have saved that Milton paper?

a.milton works © James F. O’Neil 2013

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