by Leonard Gill
June 16th: It's Bloomsday, the day that admirers of James Joyce meet to celebrate Joyce's novel Ulysses, which takes place in Dublin on that date. And starting around 5 p.m., it takes place in Memphis when Celtic Crossing, the Irish bar/restaurant in Cooper-Young, celebrates too with music, food, and costumes inspired by the novel and readings drawn directly from the book.
Thanks to local actors Eddy Thornton, Michael Vale, and Rick Crowe, Memphians can watch a scene out of Ulysses set, appropriately enough, in a Dublin pub. Thanks to Rhodes College student Alicia Queen, Memphians can hear as Molly Bloom rhapsodizes stream of consciously in the novel's famous (and infamous) closing chapter.
Reginald Moore "channels" Molly's husband, Leopold Bloom, in another reading from the book. And thanks to husband-and-wife Ron Evans and Mary Lowe-Evans, we'll hear from husband-and-wife Molly and Leopold in a reading drawn from the novel's "Calypso" episode.
"Bloomsday" in Memphis is thanks to Celtic's owner, DJ Naylor, and Mary Lowe-Evans, who have worked to organize this first citywide celebration of Joyce. What's this got to do, though, with the "bride" of Frankenstein?
Lowe-Evans, a Joyce scholar, has also written on Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, which was based on a "waking dream" Shelley had on the shores of Lake Geneva. She was in the company of her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, and they spent their vacation time telling ghost stories and talking late into the night — talking, among other things, about the possibility of animating dead matter. But as Mary Shelley later recalled: "It proved a wet, ungenial summer and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house." (You want rain, thunder, lightning, and Byron at his looniest? See here.)
Sounds like the ungenial summer Memphis is having, what with last Friday's winds, rain, and power outages. But there's good reason to remember Mary Shelley's "waking dream." The year was 1816. The day was June 16th.