A Story a Day #18: James Joyce
February 23rd, 2020
"The Boarding House"
A woman opens a boarding house in Dublin after her husband goes off the rails. It is occupied by tourists and artists, but also by men who live and work in the city. Her son and daughter also live in the boarding house and her daughter regularly flirts with the men that live there. The madam, as they call her, soon learns of an affair happening between her daughter and one of the men and plans to confront him about it. She knows that if word gets out he could lose his job because of his reputation. She confronts him and it appears as though he is going to ask her daughter to marry him.
James Joyce is one of the few authors I have read before in this book of short stories. I have read a good portion of Ulysses as well as the story "The Dead." I've always been fond of his writing and never quite sure why. In many of his stories, usually there is not much happening in terms of action or drama. His most well known novel happens over the course of a single day. In similar fashion, there is not much that happens in this short story but it was still engaging and pleasant to read.
I think what works particularly well for this story is the amount of detail he includes. It never feels burdened by detail but it also doesn't feel sparse. It moves freely to focus on different characters but doesn't feel disjointed. Although no major twists happen, I am eager to find out the fates of the people involved in this scandal. Perhaps this is just the magic of James Joyce.