“...practicing law, or becoming as academic” = should be AN academic!
This graphic novel was interesting, not least of which because it paints James Augustine Aloysius Joyce in a very unflattering light. The man was a moocher, a womanizer, an alcoholic who was often abusive towards his wife, and he was extremely lazy. Based on how he was presented here, he was not a person I would like had I ever met him in real life. But my review isn't of him, it's of this graphic novel, and in that case, for the art and the story, I can recommend it.
if I had reservations, it would be over two things: some of the poses of characters in the panels - especially of people walking - seem very static, almost like they weren't walking at all, but were posing as though they were walking, or like their legs were copied from earlier pictures and repurposed. I can understand this from those of us who are lesser artists (if artists at all!). The temptation to reuse and modify is great, but this author/illustrator can draw, so it would have been nice to have seen some variation.
The other issue was with the high volume of text. It seemed to overshadow if not entirely defeat the purpose of the novel being graphic. Sometimes it felt more like an illustrated biography than a graphic novel! To be fair, it was a graphic novel with many panels on every page, but be warned there is a heck of a lot of narrative reading.
The story covers Joyce from childhood - actually from before - there is an introductory section which details the failed business exploits of his forebears. Joyce makes petulant and impulsive decisions, like going off to study medicine in Paris for no good reason and without a penny to his name. Consequently, he mooches money off everyone and then rather than spend it on his stated need, he spends it on living high on the hog until it runs out and he's kicked out of yet another boarding house.
He seduces and lives with Nora Barnacle, who turns out to be his lifelong partner and the real hero of the story in my opinion for what she put up with. Eventually they did get married, but why she stuck with a man like that I cannot imagine and the author of this novel, perhaps wisely, doesn't try to understand either. He doesn't even address the paradox. This is a judgment-free biography!
The story goes on to discuss Joyce's health, notably his recurring problems with his eyesight, and finally his work which he eventually got around to writing. We also learn of Joyce's two children, Giorgio, who died as recently as 1976, and sadly, of his daughter Lucia, who was a dancer and later in life suffered from schizophrenia, but she outlived all of them, dying in 1982 still in an institution - the very one that Joyce himself did not want her staying at 'among the English'!
So not a happy life for James Joyce at all, but he had his moments and was fortunately taken care of by a strong and inexplicably devoted woman. I recommend this as a worthy read for anyone interested in Joyce.