December 2nd, 2010


Book Review: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

One-line summary: Seinfeld in 1960s New Orleans. Okay, not really, but like that. Kind of except not. GAH I CAN'T EVEN


Amazon: Average: 4.2. Mode: 5 stars (66%).
Goodreads: Average: 3.87. Mode: 5 stars (39%)

"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.

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Verdict: I think it's hard to be lukewarm about this book; either you're going to love it or you're going to think it was a waste of your time. I'm gonna go with "waste of time," except that since it's so highly-regarded, one of those Books Everyone Should Read, it's worth giving a try. Either you'll join the fan club, or at least you'll be able to say you read it.