Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Ignatius J. Reilly has but a simple wish.  He just wants to improve the lives of all around him in New Orleans.  Of course, in order to do so, they must change their ways and follow his suggestions for a better life.  But, alas, Ignatius is misunderstood and ignored.  His obese presence and his superiority complex are off putting and make people flee from him.  From his mother who thinks a man of his age should be working to her friends who believe he should be put in a mental hospital, from the policeman who mistakenly tries to arrest him, to the various employers who attempt to fit him into their workforce, Ignatius is repeatedly misunderstood.

A myriad of interesting characters surround him.  There is the barmaid who wants to improve herself and become an exotic dancer in an act featuring a parrot.  There is the factory owner who doesn't want to supervise his factory but surely wasn't prepared for someone like Ignatius to come in and try to organize his workers.  A policeman who is misunderstood and forced to work undercover in a variety of disguises.  A hot dog vendor who tries to work with Ignatius and is unsure why he doesn't seem to bring in money but is out of product every day.  A socialist female friend from New York City who is concerned about Ignatius's virgin state.  A porter in the bar who is determined to change his fate.  Ignatius's mother who coddles him one day then conspires with her friends to do anything to change him.  What's a visionary to do?

John Kennedy Toole wrote this book while in the Army.  He later committed suicide and his mother began her mission of getting his book published.  She pursued her mission vigorously but unsuccessfully until the author Walker Percy read it and helped get it published in 1980.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981.  The character of Ignatius J. Reilly is one that readers will not soon forget and his humorous adventures make this a uniquely American novel.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

No comments: