1. You want to go beyond the green fields and quaint sheep of the Emerald Isle, deep into the heart of “dear dirty Dublin” at the turn of the 20th century.
2. Now that you’re all grown up, you’re ready to relive the sometimes painful experiences of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
3. You’re a reader with a real life, looking for something short that packs a powerful punch. Joyce gives you 15 for the price of one in this collection.
4. You like singular characters and even more singular descriptions of them. In “A Mother,” Mr. O’Madden Burke’s “magniloquent western name was the moral umbrella upon which he balanced the fine problem of his finances.”
5. In every story, Joyce gives new meaning to “epiphany”—a moment that suddenly reveals “whatness” of a thing, person, or situation.
6. You want to see how people can be shaped by all kinds of circumstances, from religion to money to family history to politics.
7. Common people often make the most interesting characters, and everyday, ordinary experiences make for rich stories.
8. You’d like to understand the sense of paralysis that drove Joyce to leave Ireland and become an expat in Paris. “There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do nothing in Dublin,” muses the main character in “A Little Cloud.”
9. You gave up on Ulysses—and you didn’t even try Finnegans Wake—but you still want to read James Joyce.