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American Michael James Fallon Does Irish Novelist James Joyce a Favor

If the hope of a writer is to have people read their book, then long-time Santa Claran Michael James Fallon may just have done as much for famed Irish author James Joyce as Joyce did for himself when he wrote his once infamous novel “Ulysses.”

“Ulysses” chronicles just one day—June 16, 1904—in the life and mind of protagonist Leopold Bloom in Dublin, Ireland. Initially judged obscene, the long, serialized book was banned worldwide. It was not published as a novel until 1922 in Paris, France.

A century later, in 2022, Fallon’s almost 500-page book “Ulysses Abridged—A Shorter Journey Through James Joyce’s Masterpiece”—was published, to Fallon’s great relief.


Like Homer’s classic “Odyssey,” upon which the organization of Joyce’s “Ulysses” is modeled, Fallon’s odyssey in abridging “Ulysses” was also a long, heroic adventure. He spent almost ten years, off and on, typing and redacting the novel, paring it by a third.

“Ulysses” is daunting to read—and to type accurately—because of its then innovative stream-of-consciousness style, creative spelling and punctuation, dense formatting—and length.

“With a sip of Irish whiskey and a pint of Guinness at hand, I commenced to re-read, judiciously select, surgically redact, and type, type, type the text originally typeset from the scrawling hand of [Joyce],” said Fallon, a native of Ohio and fifth generation Irish American.

Fallon, who prefaced each of the 18 episodes in the book with background information, developed carpal tunnel syndrome transcribing episode 13.

“When I completed the last page of typing the abridgment…I felt a great joy, a great relief, a great elation. The phrase that came to mind was ‘my fait accompli!’” said Fallon, a San Jose State University lecturer emeritus.

Why did he even do it?

“Ulysses is considered one of the greatest books in English literature. It’s an Irish classic,” he said. “It transports me back to Ireland and enriches my appreciation for my Irish heritage.”

His heritage includes a cherished 1934, first U.S. edition of “Ulysses,” numbering 768 pages, bequeathed to him by his paternal grandfather.

On a trip to Maui in 2004, Fallon began in earnest to read “Ulysses.” Then in 2013, he was invited to All Hallows College, Dublin, for a week of Bloomsday activities honoring Joyce.

“That,” he said, “was the crux to complete this undertaking.”

Traditionally, it is college students, Joyce scholars and patriotic Irish with, like Fallon, a pint at hand, who read “Ulysses.” With Ulysses Abridged,” Fallon tempts the rest of the world to discover what the original hoopla was about and how the novel is relevant today.

“The book spoke to my being Irish; to Irish history and her oppression; spoke to family and friend relationships, marriage, sexuality, and horse racing!” said Fallon. “Just read it out loud and enjoy it. Don’t try to analyze it!”

Read it aloud with Fallon at Five Points Cocktail Bar, San Jose at 4 p.m., on Bloomsday, June 16. On June 17, 1-5 p.m., read with Fallon at the United Irish Cultural Center, San Francisco.

Time will tell if an American, albeit one of Irish ancestry and with good intentions, gets away with tampering with the sacred tome of an iconic Irish writer. Or if he and his book are banned from Ireland by his Irish cousins.

Fallon is donating to AmeriCeltic part of the proceeds from “Ulysses Abridged” books purchased on its website: The nonprofit, weekly Irish-American newsletter reviewed his book with a modern feminist eye on Joyce.

It was also reviewed by the Irish Book Club.

Contact Fallon via email at to purchase his first Irish book—“The Definitive St. Patrick’s Day Festivity Book” (1997).


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