Irish Tunes, Guinness, and Joyce Readings

Readers and revelers gather at The Hammer Museum to raise a pint to "Ulysses."

While we're fairly accustomed to the annual return of cosmic events -- hi there, summer solstice, we see you on approach -- and the yearly showing of Christmas-themed television shows -- let's have a hug, "It's a Wonderful Life" -- we don't see all that many books on the receiving end of big, once-a-year parties.

It isn't like novels don't have specific dates in them, because they do; it's just that few annual book-themed bashes have caught the public's fancy. But reader fancy has been caught, and rewarded, where James Joyce's "Ulysses" is concerned. It's a literary classic that gets its own annual holiday, and that holiday is called Bloomsday.

If you've read, and adore, what is most certainly one of the most famous and innovative works of the 20th century, then you know the date of the holiday is now, always, and forever more, June 16.

It's a date honored by The Hammer Museum in Westwood each year, which throws its own free-to-all Bloomsday hootenanny. Okay, the Guinness on the flow at the festivity is not free, so show with money for your drink, but the stirring live readings from the book -- presented by a cavalcade of dramatic actors in the museum's Billy Wilder Theatre -- is most certainly gratis, and most certainly glorious.

"Irish fare" is also on the evening's bill. And shall there be music? So much foot-stomping, feel-the-thump-inside-your-chest music, courtesy of Rattle the Knee. 

In short? If we can't go to Dublin on June 16, why Dublin will kindly call upon Westwood, in spirit and sound.

There's a small fee to park under the museum, do note. And do note that you don't need to know your "Ulysses" backwards and forwards to find the literary fire inside; the vibe of the night delivers on much of that. 

But knowing that the novel unfurls on June 16, 1904 is a fine bit of fact to keep tucked in the pocket of your vest. You may not know when your favorite Christmas special'll air in December, but if you remember the date of "Ulysses," you'll forever keep the 16th day of June open for socializing, singing, and some Guinnessing, too.

And as for book-themed holidays? Perhaps we can get a few more of those on the calendar, for that feels very much like an "everyone wins" scenario.

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