"If you’re a person whose perception of the world is shaped by literature, Dublin can feel less like a place that James Joyce wrote about than a place that is about James Joyce’s writing. The city of his fiction exists in ghostly superimposition over the actual city, such as it is, and every street corner, every landmark, every fleetingly glimpsed stranger, can seem haunted by some Joycean revenant. If you’re already thinking about Joyce to begin with, Dublin will continually provide you with reasons to continue doing so. Joyce will not be escaped. He inheres in the city’s bones."
Dublin was busy with construction and slick with rain. I tried to recognize landmarks through the taxi windows—mossy stone gate here, mossy stone church there—while the cab driver told me how the Irish were all getting rich and he had finally been able to move back home from the impossible hell of Scotland. It was the end of 1999, I had just flown from Washington to interview for a magazine called International Living, the new hotel-pub where I was staying was owned by someone from the band U2, in 24 hours I would be back at the airport, and life felt like a Thomas Friedman column.
The registration desk [...]