A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

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"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs."

Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole's tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. ("Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyss.") But Ignatius's quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso--who mistakes him for a vagrant--and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Ignatius is out pounding the pavement in search of a job.

Over the next several hundred pages, our hero stumbles from one adventure to the next. His stint as a hotdog vendor is less than successful, and he soon turns his employers at the Levy Pants Company on their heads. Ignatius's path through the working world is populated by marvelous secondary characters: the stripper Darlene and her talented cockatoo; the septuagenarian secretary Miss Trixie, whose desperate attempts to retire are constantly, comically thwarted; gay blade Dorian Greene; sinister Miss Lee, proprietor of the Night of Joy nightclub; and Myrna Minkoff, the girl Ignatius loves to hate. The many subplots that weave through A Confederacy of Dunces are as complicated as anything you'll find in a Dickens novel, and just as beautifully tied together in the end. But it is Ignatius--selfish, domineering, and deluded, tragic and comic and larger than life--who carries the story. He is a modern-day Quixote beset by giants of the modern age. His fragility cracks the shell of comic bluster, revealing a deep streak of melancholy beneath the antic humor. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 and never saw the publication of his novel. Ignatius Reilly is what he left behind, a fitting memorial to a talented and tormented life.



Title : A Confederacy of Dunces
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0802130208
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 pages


Reviews


Megha rated it ★★★★★

June 26, 2012

One fine morning Fortuna spun my wheel of luck and put me on a flight to NYC. The person who was sitting next to me, refusing to indulge in modern day perversities like movies, pulled out his book and sat down reading. He must have been enjoying it immensely, because he kept laughing out loud eve...


Nathan rated it ★★☆☆☆

September 20, 2007

I know I'm out on my own on this one, but I detest this book. I really think it glorifies whining to an extent never before seen in the human condition. Everyone I know loves this book, and I know I am in a minority here. But Christ... That this book is so popular with people in my age bracket an...


sarah rated it ★★★★★

April 06, 2007

There are a lot of ways to judge people, but I find that opinion of this book is one of the most accurate and efficient. With very few exceptions, I've found that how much I like someone is strongly correlated with how much they enjoy the book. Is it their favorite book ever, omg? Well, they're p...


Jeffrey rated it ★★★★★

December 30, 2016

Read for the group On the Southern Literary Trail Bounce BOUnce BOUNCE Oh man ughh ooohhhhh. BOUNCE! BOUNCE!! ahhhhhhhhhhhhh Oh thank goodness my pyloric valve finally opened. I didn't know I even had a pyloric valve until I met Ignatius J. Reilly. I had no idea that little valve could be so pesky. I can...


Michelle rated it ★★☆☆☆

May 17, 2008

I thought the book was ok. One of my old boyfriends recommended it to me, and while I was reading it I told him what an asshole I thought Ignatius J. Reilly was, and that I was sick of hearing about his valve. He got pissed off at me and told me that I didn't get it. He said Ignatius was a misund...


Mary Catherine rated it ★☆☆☆☆

December 29, 2007

I hated this book. I almost gave up after the first 20 pages, but I decided to stick with it and give it a chance. Wrong. My first instinct was correct! The only thing that might have saved this for me was if the main character Ignatius faced a long, slow, painful death. There was absolutely nothi...


Paul rated it ★☆☆☆☆

January 05, 2013

Authors who commit suicide find their Lovelybones-eye view from the afterlife brings them no comfort: David Foster Wallace : Oh my God - look at that dreadful biography of me... and it's selling too... it's like they're murdering me all over again ... oh if I could only commit suicide all over aga...


Michael rated it ★★★★★

July 02, 2017

This was my second read of this unbelievable masterpiece from John Kennedy Toole who committed suicide 21 years before this book was rediscovered and published by his mother (he was thus the only person to receive a posthumous Pulitzer in 1981). Ignatius P Reilly is so incredibly unforgettable. I...


Sarah rated it ★★★★☆

March 20, 2009

Dear Reader, Fortuna evidently was smiling upon my being when I endeavored to undertake the consumption of this philosophical masterpiece. How amusing to stumble upon a comic homage to Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, an homage that not only mirrors its source of inspiration in both content a...


Madeleine rated it ★★★☆☆

February 08, 2014

ETA: I recently came across a physical copy of this at my favorite used-book store. The eagerness with which I grabbed said copy--and the disappointment I felt in its previous owner for the lack of annotation I found in its pages--suggests that I liked this book far more than I hated its main cha...





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