Thursday, November 15, 2007

84. "A Confederacy of Dunces" - John Kennedy Toole


I tried to read this book months ago, but Ignatius Reilly, the main character, annoyed me so much that I quit after a few chapters.

Try, try again. This time, I think reading the forward helped me get in the mindset of the themes in this book. Toole committed suicide after being depressed over the lackluster response to his masterpiece. His mother harassed Walker Percy at Loyola to read this manuscript, and the rest, as they say, is history. The novel won the Pulitzer.

So Ignatius, bumbling, big Ignatius, is New Orleans Don Quixote, aiming his sights at a hot dog stand instead of a windmill. His wildly opinionated philosophical musings are written on Big Chief tablets in his room. Did I mention he's a 30-year-old man still living with his mother?

And what a mother. Due to a couple too many beers, she ran into a store facade, making Ignatius go to work to help pay off her debt. She moans over how Ignatius treats her.

Described as a "tragicomedy," it does create a crazy, symbiotic relationship between all of the odd characters placed in different lifestyles in the Quarter, but the real tragedy is that Toole did not live to see the success of his novel. While Ignatius may be the most piercingly irritating character ever created, at least he is not boring.

3.0 out of 5.0 New Orleans Bucks.

4 comments:

Jeane said...

This is the second favorable review I've read of this book. But you seem rather reticent about it. Do you give it a strong recommendation, or just lukewarm?

Kristin Dodge said...

Rather lukewarm. I'd like to say I loved it. I appreciate the author's crafting of the story, but I didn't find it as amusing as most other reviewers.

Bibliolatrist said...

I admit that I really enjoyed this book, but I haven't read it in about 5 years. My experience is that, when returning to a book I once raved about, I don't always feel the same way. I'd hate to reread this book and feel disappointment.

Anonymous said...

I first recognized Ignatius Riley as one of those types of men for whom I have nothing but contempt. 100 pages on, I have completely come around to his world view. I am one of those kind southern gentleman types. But under the spell of Ignatius, I have lately become quite outspoken among the people I associate with here in this small Alabama town.