The modern library hardcover is the one you want (details of the work and edition)
First, a little about the modern library edition... astute scholars have toiled quite diligently here to preserve the fifteen stories which make up this work in the precise way that james joyce himself wanted them presented. to save time it's best to just note that joyce encountered discord in getting this work published because various influential factions found it to be "blasphemous." this outdated assessment represents the irish catholic view of the age which had somehow carried over from the victorian period. today one might characterize these tales as very slightly irreverent, if that. in the end, this work of top british (irish) literature eventually saw publication in 1914. joyce embraced certain caveats which he wanted included via the publishing process -- he used dashes to set out dialogue instead of quotation marks as he considered the latter to manifest unnecessary baggage. honestly, i fell right in to his technique (which is how it's presented here) and discovered that this practice makes for very palatable reading. he also wanted many corrections made to the original text and as many as possible were included in this 1993 edition. as to the stories, i savor joyce to the highest degree because i can relate to his paradigm -- my own writing is quite like his. i am james joyce just as dan quayle was jfk. anyway, here we have fifteen fictional accounts over the course of 286 pages (the product description is incorrect). the writing is very straight-forward, with the occasional subtle nuance which escalates this compendium into the realm which we now classify as literature. at times james is as morbidly dreary as dostoyevsky in and at others he panders a level of acerbity which william faulkner conveyed in . these are all culturally folksy tales of dublin salt-of-the-earth residents. each story chiefly focuses upon members of a repressed society, the urban working irish at the outset of the 20th century. these people were subjugated by archaic laws, dissolute politicians, greedy employers, by one another, but most of all by the hop and grain. alcohol was as vast a problem for the irish as it has historically been for both russians and native american indians. the ultimate consequence for all three cultures has been essentially equivalent. the irish poor somehow managed to live a slightly more civilized existence than the aforementioned groups but they were still enslaved to their overwhelming social burdens -- joyce brought these actualities to life. he lifted the mundane, indeed the melancholy, to the plateau of the melodramatic without being in the least exploitive of their collective plight. his writing style, especially his vague story conclusions, best lend themselves to suit the analytic ponderer. if you would like to begin your reading of joyce in chewable bites rather than tearing into or then this book is precisely what you're seeking. highly recommended.