Dubliners was my introduction to James Joyce. We read it in class when I was about 13 and I was particularly drawn to the story, Araby.
The story is about a teenage boy infatuated with his older female neighbour. He asks her to go to a county fair and she just smiles warmly at him and tells him to bring her back something. He meanders around the fair before it closes in search of the perfect gift and finally finds it. A vase, if I remember correctly. When the woman running the stall finally breaks away from her conversation and smiles warmly, the boy says something to the effect of ‘never mind’ and walks away.
I was just starting my lifelong infatuation with short stories and I remember my teacher analysing the ending of Araby, concluding, ‘Sometimes these Joyce stories mean nothing.’
It was the first time I realised the adults in my life weren't always right and one of the first times I felt I understood a piece of writing so profoundly.
Sloane Crosley’s first novel, The Clasp (Hutchinson, £12.99) is out now. We suggest you check out her fantastic non-fiction too – look out for her wry collection of essays, I Was Told There’d Be Cake.