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Best Literary Slumming 

Crosby Kemper III at Bloomsday

Every June, Tom Shawver's Bloomsday Books earns its name, hosting a 24-hour reading of James Joyce's Ulysses. Lit lovers of all stripes sign up for thirty-minute slots, never knowing exactly what stretch of baffling text (half a page of made-up names of Catholic priests? a passage in French?) they might have to read in front of their peers. The readers come from all walks of life, but this year it was hard to ignore the stellar performance of one in particular, a tweed-jacketed bloke who took to the microphone with a glass of Jameson's. He proceeded to ad-lib several distinctive snobbish brogues for a debate among members of Parliament; a slobbery drunken whine for the besotted denizen of an Irish pub; a properly disaffected narrator for various interstitial trivialities; and so on. The mesmerizing reader? UMB banker Crosby Kemper III. "I love reading, I love literature and I love literary events where people get to share their love of literature," says the moneyed one, who began taking part in Bloomsday events at Left Bank Books in St. Louis in 1995. "Joyce is such a literary author, with his allusions, his love of language, the wonderful, resonant, joyful sound that his writing makes when you read it aloud," Kemper adds. He learned his fake accents while spending a year at school in England, and he admits to being "a resolute mimic and failed actor." The booze doesn't hurt, either. "I would say it is appropriate to have a touch of the dew as you're approaching morning with James Joyce, yes." To which we add, "yes I said yes I will Yes."

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