A Confederacy of Dunces Paperback – Jan 21 1994
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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 Lana Lee 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. --Alix Wilber
From Library Journal
Oooo-eeee! Toole's outrageous rambling farce comes to life with the wonderful voices of Arte Johnson?surely one of the greatest matches ever of the written to the spoken word. Toole's novel, written in the early 1960s and published posthumously in the early 1980s, is one of the great comic works of the century and still fresh 35 years later. Toole's finest achievement is protagonist Ignatius J. Reilly, a great intellectual and deadbeat glutton who roams the squalor and charm of New Orleans causing enormous chaos, selling a few hot dogs from his weenie wagon, and suffering a pyloric valve shutdown at the general looniness of the characters he meets in places like the Night of Joy nightclub. Johnson has created a unique voice for each of the many fantastic, overblown crazies woven into this wild story. It's unfortunate that the audio version is abridged. Still, the spirit of the original is here. Highly recommended for all listeners who love a great belly laugh at the human condition.?Barbara Valle, El Paso P.L., TX
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Aptly, this is a novel filled with deranged obsessive compulsive characters. But this plot lacks some sanity to stitch it together. The humor is overwrought and gets tiresome. I felt like I was driving a 4wd Jeep in reverse through deep crisscrossing ruts. What had started the book as a novel reading experience could no longer sustain my interest. I did finish the book but failed to understand how it has garnered so much praise, although I must admit it is unique in its excessively unprincipled weirdness.
Highly recommended. It deserves its cult status. Truly a unique comic novel, now easily one of my top 5 favorites. Pick up a copy!
The story arc isn't complete either. I finished this book with a completely unsatisfied and empty feeling. You somewhat know where Ignatius ends up but there is a character introduced in the middle of the book (Dr. Talc) that serves no real purpose other than to take up space. He is introduced and there is some backstory about Ignatius and Myrna but then Dr. Talc is slowly written out of the story with no real ending for the character and no story arc written for him. It felt as if 40 pages or so were just wasted when some backstory could have been explained in just a few pages without introducing a character that is superfluous.
I would like to continue writing about how this book could have been better but I would rather just read a book that is more well written that doesn't feel like it needs to use a vocabulary that most of society doesn't use. If I had written that book I don't know if I would want to write any more books after this one for the thought of being "lashed about the shoulders" as Ignatius likes to write about some of his acquaintances.
I am giving this book three stars because there was potential but it is far from being humerous.
Most recent customer reviews
Unforgettable characters, fast moving plot, authentic speech patterns and dialogue make this a splendidly entertaining comic novel. Read morePublished 14 months ago by David B. Ellis
An intricate plot involving marginalized characters that takes the reader on a wild and often hilarious ride. The use of evocative language is spectacular.Published on May 18 2014 by Lynn Ziegler
Very entertaining and funny literary accomplishment, would recommend for any good read. Wish they could finally decide to make a movie of it.Published on Feb. 18 2014 by Linda McMullen
maybe it's my sense of humor (or lack thereof). Gave up after about 30 pages.
My daughter recommended this book - she thought it was the funniest thing ever. Read more