Sean Hayes, October 23, 2014 (view all comments by Sean Hayes)
This novel was prophetic in many ways. Its antihero, Igantius Reilly, has been educated with useless subjects to the degree that he is unfit to hold a job or any place in the real world. I have heard he is the basis for the Comic Shop Owner on The Simpsons. He has the extended adolescence and taken-for-granted reliance on his parent that is now commonplace. His remarked-upon obesity would probably be unremarkable today. He pioneered the concept of hate-watching 50 years before it was cool. His righteous indignation would be right at home on any internet message board, tea party meeting, gaming forum, etc. He would wake up to Fox News or MSNBC just to get himself righteously ticked off to fuel his day. His opinions are also completely wrong and hypocritical, but that does not diminish his passion for expressing them. I have always liked a picaresque novel with a strong narrative voice, and wordplay and verbal humor. This book has all of that. It has the Larry David view of good intentions gone wrong and social customs examined as the useless, hollow conventions they are. The book is divisive given that Ignatius is neither likable, nor good looking, and typically one has to be one or the other. Or have some tragic backstory that makes him sympathetic. It presents stereotypes, but traps the characters who believe in them. So the stereotypes become sympathetic, not ugly caricatures. Apart from being funny and astutely modern, the city of New Orleans is wonderfully rendered, the dialogue is fantastic, and the romance of Ignatius and his beatnik girlfriend actually leaves more to be desired and imagined. I understand why some people would not like the book; they include my own Mother. But I'd say the fault lies with it not being to everyone's taste, rather than any particular fault with the book itself.
beth60best, April 7, 2013 (view all comments by beth60best)
A joyful and sad experience reading this book: Joy in the author, John Kennedy Toole, and his use of wonderful descriptions of the characters (as an example:"Her brown wedgies squeaked with discount price defiance as she walked...along the broken brick sidewalk."), love for New Orleans and its characters, and joy and pride in his environment. Sad experience, in the knowledge that this book was not printed until after Toole's suicide, and went on to win a Pulitzer. This is a book of rare experiences, characters and writing. When Toole's mother submitted the badly-copied manuscript to Walker Percy, his first reaction was that nothing could be so good! We are lucky that Percy saw this magnificent work for what it is.
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Dayle, August 7, 2012 (view all comments by Dayle)
Do not read this book where unplanned, snot-producing laughter might be considered inappropriate. For instance, your desk at work. Ignatius J. Reilly is one of the most eccentric protagonists you will ever encounter, prone to pontificating in his Big Chief writing tablet, obsessing over his pyloric valve, which is sensitive to all manner of stimuli and can snap shut with little provocation, and seeking employment in a shirt factory and as a weenie vendor to help pay for his mother's car crash after one too many beers at the "Night of Joy" strip club. The characters are brought to life in hilarious detail, seemingly unrelated to each other at the story's start, but spinning ever-closer to each other until their worlds inevitably collide. I read this in preparation for my first trip to New Orleans, where the store is set. I look forward to standing next to the statue of Ignatius on Canal Street, outside the old DH Holmes department store this September. That is, assuming Fortuna does not give life's wheel an unexpected downward turn and thwart my plan.
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Grove Press -
by The New York Times Book Review,
"A masterwork...the novel astonishes with its inventiveness...it is nothing less than a grand comic fugue."
"Astonishing, extravagant, lunatic, satiric, and peculiar, but it is above all genuine, skillful, and unsentimentally comic."
by The Washington Post,
"A corker, an epic comedy, a rumbling, roaring avalanche of a book."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A masterpiece of character comedy...brilliant, relentless, delicious, perhaps even classic."
by Publishers Weekly,
"Crazy magnificent once-in-a-blue-moon first novel....There is a touch of genius about Toole and what he has created."
"An astonishingly good novel, radiant with intelligence and artful high comedy."
by Susan Reinhardt, Gainsville Times,
"You'll be hooked, rolling on the floor laughing at the antics of main character Ignatius Reilly, an intellectual deadbeat goof-off and all his misadventures in New Orleans....This book has a Pulitzer to back up my claims of greatness."
by The New Republic,
"One of the funniest books ever written...it will make you laugh out loud till your belly aches and your eyes water."
by Christian Science Monitor,
"I found myself laughing out loud again and again as I read this ribald book."
by The Baltimore Sun,
"The episodes explode one after the other like fireworks on a stormy night. No doubt about it, this book is destined to become a classic."
by San Francisco Chronicle,
"A brilliant and evocative novel."
by The Boston Globe,
"The dialogue is superbly mad. You simply sweep along, unbelievably entranced."
"If a book's price is measured against the laughs it provokes, A Confederacy of Dunces is the bargain of the year."
by New York,
"An astonishingly original and assured comic spree."
by Los Angeles Herald Examiner,
"As hilarious as it indisputably is, A Confederacy of Dunces is a serious and important work."
A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is "huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures" (Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times).
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