It should be said first of all that James Joyce's Ulysses is a comic masterpiece. If it employs modernist experimental techniques such as interior monologue, stream-of-consciousness, multiple narrative styles, a mythic subtext that parallels Homer's Odyssey, and a daunting modernist difficulty in tracing the intersecting patterns of its three main characters, Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and his wife Molly Bloom on a single day in Dublin (now celebrated there as Bloomsday), it's also often incredibly funny and imparts to the reader the characters' internal--both mental and bodily--sensations as they navigate through this day.
Dedalus, the protagonist of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, is close to Joyce's surrogate, and the novel opens with Dedalus living in the Martello Tower outside of Dublin where the author once lived. His companion Buck Mulligan is given to rather gross epithets: "The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea." In contrast, Dedalus favors the philosophical and literary: "ineluctable modality of the visible."
Both Leopold and Molly Bloom are more earthy figures and their interior monologues are accordingly so, which is why Ulysses was brought up on obscenity charges and eventually cleared of them (clearly, the novel isn't to everyone's taste; Virginia Woolf found it vulgar). There is a sense in both characters of an acknowledgment of the corporeal, the fleshy, the riotous material world of objects.
Of course Molly Bloom's soliloquy that ends the novel is the most notorious example: "O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jasmine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain. . .and yes I said yes I will Yes."
No question it's a daunting read; Stuart Gilbert's critical study James Joyce's Ulysses would be helpful to have on the bedside table. On the other hand, it's quite possible that postmodern fiction, which has incorporated and taken for granted modernist experimentation, and cinematic devices of the French New Wave like the jump cut have made this early 20th century text a bit more approachable.
As novelist Anthony Burgess observed, even masterpieces can have arid patches, and the parody of a Jesuitical interrogation, for example, dragged on this reader. There are parts that are a slog. And in the interest of full disclosure, this reviewer has read the novel only once and roughly 30 years ago--I've probably read more critical studies--but at the same time that first and only reading was vivid and unforgettable as a flame in the mind: the Nighttown sequence, Bloom's encounter with Bertie MacDowell at the seashore, and yes Molly Bloom's soliloquy. Joyce renders the fragmentation of modern consciousness, and encapsulates a world in one day. Surrender yourself to Ulysses and you'll undergo a sea-change. And by the way, it's often a hoot.