Sorry, but isn't everything Joyce has written absurdly masturbatory and egoistic? The man has an awing command of the English language, but Ulysses and what little I've read of Finnegan's is most certainly absolute literary masturbation at its most elegant.
I dunno about elegant, and i'm almost through all of Finnegans (no ', sorry it's a pet peeve). I'd say eloquent? To an extent, yes it's masturbatory and egotistic, but at the same time isn't any process of creation a work of fiction arguably for self gratification and affirmation from others? This isn't to say that Joyce isn't more explicit than others about this, but I like to think it's more a balance of his egotism and a sense of humor. As i've said already, he makes fun of himself and even solely serious readings of his work all throughout his work. Further, I think that getting hung up on his egotism and aesthetic achievement is to cut short what he is also doing with the novel as well as what he is saying about life. I completely understand the argument that Joyce is what Woolf called 'an adolescent scratching his pimples,' or something to that effect, but I think even Woolf couldn't get over her sensibilities and read Joyce for what he was trying to say in addition to playing around with form and language.
Woolf on the other hand... I love her and I've been very deeply affected in particular by To The Lighthouse in a way similar to how Prufrock and Henry James' "Beast in the Jungle" moved me, but a character can't move from one room to the next without contemplating the entirety of the human condition and the infinite regression of history and memory, etc. etc.
I +1000 the anything by Eric Carl as well as The Boxcar Children and Encyclopedia Brown books. And From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (sp?)
Any love for EM Forster or DH Lawrence?