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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 Darlene 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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel with the sad history turns 20 (LJ 4/15/80). This story about a young man's isolation still rings true at a time when millions interact more with computers than with other people. This anniversary edition contains a new introduction by Andrei Codrescu.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The book is racist. Unlike the tales of Mark Twain, written two centuries ago, this book holds no place in history. Read morePublished 1 day ago by wolverton
<em> <a style="font-style: italic;" href=[...]</a> </em>by <a href="[...]</a> is funny, wise, and as close to a perfect novel as you’re likely to find. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Robert Errera
Funny and a little touching. I bought it while on vacation in New Orleans, so it seemed appropriate. Read morePublished 3 days ago by alcesito
John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about oddball Ignatius J. Reilly and the dunces who torment him. Not bad, but its merits are, in my opinion, exaggerated. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Dasein
I did not finish the book because I couldn't stand the main character. The language and vocabulary are very clever, but I didn't like the book enough to finish it.Published 4 days ago by Sally Schneider
How could I have missed it? Everyone knew the story...how the mother of a dead writer urged the manuscript on. Walker Percy and Toole's novel at least rose from the ashes. Read morePublished 6 days ago by lculp
This novel is as weird and quirky as New Orleans itself. Funny to the end. This will keep you belly-laughing at the perspective of life lived not normal.Published 7 days ago by Chris
Very well written and very original. A flow of one ludicrous character after another involved in one absurdity after another, all tied together by an unimaginably preposterous... Read morePublished 7 days ago by David Anderson