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A Confederacy of Dunces Hardcover – 1996
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Reprint Edition. WINGS BOOKS, NY 1996. THE PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING NOVEL FEATURING IGNATIUS REILLY AND HIS MARVELOUS, MADCAP ADVENTURES IN NEW ORLEANS. Foreword by Walker Percy.
Top customer reviews
I re-read aCoD every three to five years for a "humility tune up." The book is a highly polished soul mirror that's a lot more true-to-life than most people want it to be. Ignatius, or "His Royal Malignancy" as I like to call him, is the central character, and an extreme example of an arrogant bastard with absolutely nothing to be arrogant about, but the whole book is like a case study for John Calvin's doctrine of total depravity; everyone in it is---to some degree--indelibly screwed up. I suspect this is why so many people hate this book. At some point they see themselves here and realize that the depth of their own depravity is invariably greater than they suspected, realized, or certainly would ever have cared to admit.
If you love Ignatius J. Reilly, there is probably something really wrong with you, but if you hate him---there definitely is. Either way, you're doomed.
I gather from perusing some of the 1-star reviews, that some people find Ignatius too distasteful and repellent to empathize/sympathize with (or in some cases, even finish the book). That's fine. To each their own; but to me that only strengthens the argument that Toole did a masterful job in crafting the character. He's too offensive to even read?! Awesome. Just imagine if you were a character in the book that had to actually deal with him face to face. Oh the horror! Sympathize with those poor souls.
Yet, despite his beastly outward appearance, he's still very much a child at heart. Living with his mom, doing dead end jobs, dressing up in costume, fantasizing, developing ideologies and attempting to act on them. Let's be honest, no matter what our age or place in life, we all still have a bit of that going on within us. We just don't always act on it like Ignatius does.
The results of his antics- and other characters' reactions to them- while not terribly surprising in my opinion, are still worth a read; and definitely worth 5 stars.
I'm glad I did.
I bring a unique perspective to this book as a self-proclaimed pop culture geek. It's from that mindset that I realized that this book is (wholly by accident) about the genre convention stereotype: "the fanboy". The main character, Ignatius Jacques Reilly exhibits the following qualities:
1. Socially awkward to the point of being overly social. You know the type.
2. He dresses outrageously and is never without his mismatched hunting cap (much like cosplayers out of costume.)
3. He gets into long winded nonsensical arguments with about random things via letters (very much akin to online "flame wars" on fan forums.)
4. He cites Batman comics as the only impactful literature of the time.
5. He still lives with his mom while in his thirties.
A Confederacy of Dunces is a satire that depicts the ridiculous antics of various folks in New Orleans on the 1960s. It is profounds in its biting commentary on people and essays have been written about the book and the deceased author (if you haven't read the story behind him, DO IT) - yet none that I have found point out the obvious (at least to me) connection to current stereotypes in fandom culture.
If you've ever walked the around San Diego Comic Con or Dragon*Con, I suggest you take some time to read this and see how alive and well Ignatius is in today's society.
Joe M Brown