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Best Pretentious Book Club San Francisco 2008 - Finnegans Wake Popcorn

It started with Brett Lockspeiser's earnest desire to conquer the 600-plus pages of Finnegans Wake, James Joyce's final, impenetrable novel. He knew he couldn't do it alone. The words, often spliced and diced and otherwise manipulated, hail from more than fifty languages. Characters fade in and out of the story — if it can truly be called a story — without warning. There is no narrative. Some in the literary community have argued that Joyce, who spent 17 years writing the book and went blind in the process, intended it as an extremely elaborate joke. Whether Lockspeiser's book club is participating in that joke or falling for it is anyone's guess. For nearly a year, the group, which refers to itself as Finnegans Wake Popcorn, has been gathering every Tuesday at 9 p.m. in the living room of a place on the 700 block of Haight to read the nonsense aloud. Drinking beer helps. Words, and sometimes entire sentences, are inevitably butchered. Abrupt and uncomfortable laughter abounds. When one person gets tired of reading, he or she simply says "popcorn," followed by the name of the soon-to-be-embarrassed next reader. After an hour or so, when readers can't stand it any longer, they all go home.

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Thanks for the grand honor. Anyone interesting in joining the pretentiousness can email blocks at gmail dot com.

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