Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Confederacy of Dunces

To set the mood for an upcoming journey I dug out John Kennedy Toole's masterpiece "A Confederacy of Dunces" for its biennial reading.

Were you aware that A Confederacy of Dunces was not required reading in every high school in the land? I wasn't.

For those not familiar, first the backstory.

Son of New Orleans, John Kennedy Toole was a Tulane graduate, who sought his success in the big city, and took a graduate degree at Columbia in NY. Eventually, as is often the way of writers, he became discouraged writing, became depressed, took to spirits, and self destructed at 32.

Ten years after his death his mother found the peanut butter and jelly smeared carbon manuscript (ask if you do not know what a carbon is) of A Confederacy in a drawer in John's old room at her house. She fell in love with the story, took it to Walker Percy at Loyola who championed its publication. Eleven years after Toole's death the book was published and won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

Now the story. I defy you to read this book without hurting yourself laughing. It's that funny. Our hero, fat, lazy overeducated Ignatious J. Reilly lives with his mother in New Orleans.

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