I Have Also Not Read the Book That Mayor Pete and Beto Say They Love

Yes I Said Yes I Will Run for President Yes

Evidently, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke love James Joyce’s Ulysses. I have a couple things in common with them, like how O’Rourke prefers being called Beto and Buttigieg prefers being called Mayor Pete. Most people also call me by my first name! I know! Right? But the thing that really struck me is that I’m a guy who has started and never finished Ulysses!

There are lots of books I haven’t finished, but luckily that is one that is famous enough that I can fake it a little at parties or while running for President. “It’s such an authentic portrayal of contemporary Dublin.” That’s a thing you can say about that book! “I really think that Leopold Bloom’s name has everything you need to know. I mean, bloom? Come on, like a flower?” That’s another thing I’ve heard people say about this book at parties where we wanted to seem smart and get laid. Or be President.

Did you know Joyce loved the smell of poop? He also loved calling his own wife a whore. And he wrote two books for people to read in high school and two books for people to never read. Joyce was a Modernist and I like modern things! I drive a hybrid!

The book Ulysses borrows the structure of the book The Odyssey, which is about a guy named Odysseus except when he is named Ulysses. I can’t really remember how it works. One of them is Greek? In The Odyssey,  Odysseus (or Ulysses) is struggling to make his way home to his wife and son after brutally slaughtering the Trojans. Have you been to Troy? Nope. Cause his guy killed all of them. I think. I didn’t finish The Iliad, either.

But Joyce’s guy does it in one day! And I don’t think he slaughters a whole island nation but I didn’t get that far.

Beto O’Rourke loves The Odyssey

Beto named one of his kids Ulysses but says he would have named them Odysseus if he’d had “the balls” to do so. Ha! Then he learned he should still tell that story but maybe not say “balls” anymore. Beto said The Odyssey is his favorite book. Wait a second! I did finish that one! That’s the one where the rich king comes back to his wife and son, which is really sweet. And then he and his son slaughter all of the suitors but those guys are dicks, so that’s pretty cool. But then they take the maidens, who were basically slaves, and had lain with the suitors, but it’s pretty clear they were forced. Then Ulysses and his son hang all of those women! Then they take a servant in the house who was disloyal and they chop him to bits and feed him to dogs.

Also, Ulysses really likes to fuck. Pretty much anyone. But then he cries about it, so you know he’s still the hero or something.

Wait a second, isn’t there something in Ulysses where Molly has sex with another dude but she feels really bad about it? I remember something about that. Or maybe someone told it to me. Or maybe it was an ex-girlfriend. Could be both.

No word on how Mayor Pete feels about The Odyssey.

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Rob Bowman

Rob Bowman is a teacher and writer as well as the cohost of the Reel Disagreement podcast. He is the former fiction editor of and regular contributor to The Donnybrook Writing Academy. He has been a guest and lecturer at a couple universities that didn't know any better. He is working on two new novels, one of which someone might actually like.

3 thoughts on “I Have Also Not Read the Book That Mayor Pete and Beto Say They Love

  • April 26, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    I bought “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” I am currently stuck on page 8 or so of the Penguin classics edition and it’s not looking like I’ll ever pick it back up again (still farther than I got in “Finnegan’s Wake,” where I got to the top of page two and realized “nope, no fucking way”).

    • April 26, 2019 at 4:45 pm

      Even that amount still makes you a hero in my book. And qualified for at least a seat in Congress. Or mayor of a medium sized town.

  • April 28, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    I’m sorry, I misled you…it was page 10 that I’d made it to.


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