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Showing 1-10 of 1,044 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 2,302 reviews
on February 28, 2017
When critics say Confederacy is not true-to-life because it's full of despicable characters; unlikely situations; and plot-holes, I have to wonder what kind of lives they have---because that's a near perfect description of mine. JKT is (was) a master at turn-of-phrase with a gift for writing large the theater-of-the-absurd, but that's not really why I love this book so much.

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.
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on February 3, 2016
I read this book because I saw a comparison of it to "The Good Soldier Schweik".

"Dunces" was a very good read. As another reviewer stated, "This guy could write." I don't think that Toole intended this to be a "funny" book - I read quite a few reviews that were disappointed that it wasn't funny; I suppose it's marketed that way to get readers... It came across to me as more of a sad book with humorous sections; Dickenish characters making statements about their lives and situations. As far as the comparison with Schweik: Schweik was an guy who knew how to play the game and uses that knowledge to get around the rules; Ignatius doesn't know how the game is played and tries to make the world adjust to his "worldview". Pretty much opposites. I think.

Anyway, it was a good book, extremely well written, with some unforgettable characters.
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on August 26, 2015
How could I have missed it? Everyone knew the the mother of a dead writer urged the manuscript on. Walker Percy and Toole's novel at least rose from the ashes. But, reading it in 2015, I expected a hulk from the past. Somehow it is fresher than ever. Vibrant language and plotting that speeds through New Orleans like a hot dog cart on acid, propelled by characters who could meander through life in any major city today. Types they are, but types for all time, precisely rendered. I am actually glad I read this in my 60's. When life seems bleak, it is uplifting to find a writer who captures the madness so perfectly.
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on April 20, 2017
Ignatius Jacques Reilly will become your alter ego, that passionate, insane, well-educated, lethargic ball of anxiety that would be you if you gave in to all your doubts and fears. Like that first roller coaster ride you took, he will thrill you and make you ill enough to puke, and when you climb out of the car at the end your knees will shake and you will consider riding it again, immediately.
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on October 27, 2015
Delightful book all around. At first I was put off by the silly book cover illustration, but the character of Ignatius Reilly is so oddly appealing and hilarious that I now like the portrait of him. In my life I know a few men like Ignatius and so he rings true. What transpires? A 30 year old man is living unemployed at his mother's house in New Orleans and he has to go find a job, so there follows a series of mishaps and colorful characters and weird convergences where the plot lines intersect. At the onset you will be put off by this Ignatius fellow since he belches and he's obese and he pontificates on everything in modern (1960s) America, but as the book unravels you will be rooting for him and his off-beat whims. He is no Randian hero but a medievalist who worships Boethius and Fortuna and many outdated philosophies so he is not some shopworn trope you have seen before. Go Ignatius!
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on March 12, 2016
Funniest book ever - my review won't do it justice. It's so smart. The protagonist's commentary on his encounters in New Orleans and with life in general are delivered in dry, caustic humor, and with a haughty, jaunticed eye of the world around him, while maintaining a self-deprecating realization of his own "minor" and "occasional" (according to him) deficiencies. The descriptions of the characters are so spot on that you feel like you know these people - and they're all so interesting. I can't say enough. But, humor is taste-specific. It may not appeal to everyone, although I can't imagine who wouldn't find the adventures of Ignatius J. Riley engaging.
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on May 7, 2015
A Confederacy of Dunces is possibly one of the best novels I've ever read, and that's saying a lot, coming from an English major.

Toole's genius comes across in this posthumously-published Pulitzer winning tale of Ignatius J. Reilly, a large, flatulent, modern semi-Don Quixote who is constantly viewed as being an oddball, an eccentric, a narcissist, and an altogether unsavoury character of questionable morals. Reilly is almost life-like, jumping off the page (Ignatius himself would probably argue that jumping would throw off his delicate pyloric valve) and landing solidly in the reader's memory.

The other characters in the novel do not lack for intrigue, either, and often serve as devices for foiling Ignatius's self-serving behaviours and attitudes. New Orleans itself becomes something of a character, constantly exposing the dilemmas faced by its residents of varying socioeconomic statuses and racial and ethnic backgrounds.

I read this book based on a professor's recommendation toward my Master's thesis, and I have no regrets in taking the time to read it. Toole himself is a compelling presence, almost merging at points with Ignatius yet cautious enough to undercut Ignatius soon after. Ignatius is believable (and unbelievable!) because the feelings of being jaded come through in the narrative voice.

Overall, I highly recommend reading A Confederacy of Dunces. It might seem long when you first look at the page count, but the story goes quickly, moving the reader from one sub-plot/setting/character to another. There is never a dull moment, and you will not be left without having laughed out loud several times.
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on June 26, 2016
Hilarious! Mr. Toole excels in character development -- and this book has LOTS of characters. I first read this book almost 40 years ago and enjoyed it then. This second reading, however, was even MORE delightful! The main character, Ignatius Reilly, reminds me of the narcissistic, ego-driven psychiatrist in the television show "Frazer," but Ignatius is much more eccentric. The other characters in the book add to the farcical misadventures that occur in and around New Orleans. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone who loves to laugh.
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on January 2, 2015
I am a voracious reader and when I find myself reading a book that I don't want to end, it's magic. And what John Kennedy Toole has assembled here in his cast of characters in 'A Confederacy of Dunces' is truly magic. I literally found myself laughing out loud several times throughout the entire book. I love how he brought New Orleans to life so vividly--although I have never been, I felt like I had after reading this. Exactly one month from today, my fiancé and I are going to be married in N.O., and I cannot wait to see some of the areas in the French Quarter where Ignatius Reilly ventured. I know I will find myself re-reading this again. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. I finished it in less than 24 hours because I could not put it down.
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on November 20, 2011
Ignatius Reilly is one of the most unusual and truly unique characters I have come across in novels. Exceedingly obese, self-centered, disengaged from society by choice, hygienically-challenged.....this is not the typical protagonist a reader would pull for. But, there is something very appealing about this corpulent and unfashionably dressed man from New Orleans that keeps the reader's attention. Like a terrible wreck on the highway that you can't turn away from and secretly hope to see carnage, this is a man you just can't turn away from no matter how loathsome he gets.

Whether he is musing on his preference to be a Negro (this is the 1960's) and not have the white man's burden of struggling to attain a place in the misguided middle class, leading factory workers in open revolt, inventing a new filing system, or pushing a hot dog cart through the French Quarter, Ignatius commands your attention.

Whether this is a tragic comedy or a comic tragedy is debatable, but one thing is certain: you will find yourself laughing out loud on just about every page. The author's clever use of language, the well-defined secondary characters, and the pure genius of the tale itself leaves you thinking about Ignatius and his mom long after the book is read.

Brimming with the local color of New Orleans, the author fills the reader's mind with images from the underbelly of that city, its more unsavory characters, and the dens of ill repute that made it famous. Only once in his life did Ignatius leave the city and that was on an ill-fated bus ride to Baton Rouge, or as Ignatius likes to call it in his many retellings of his misadventure, "the whirlpool of despair".

Because of a mistaken arrest which leads to his mother's heavy drinking and subsequent car accident, Ignatius is forced to get a job. And that is when the fun really begins.
His Ivy League education has not prepared him for anything other than lying around the house, critiquing American Bandstand, and making demands of his haggard mom. However, when money is desperately needed, Mama tells him to get out of the house and get a job or else.

His comic misadventures at Levy's Pants and later as a hot dog vendor on the streets of the French Quarter are hysterically funny. Miss Trixie, the befuddled septuagenarian who only wants to retire, Gonzalez the conscientious office manager, Darlene the stripper who wants to be a star, Jones the janitor who only works to avoid jail, and the incompetent but dedicated Officer Mancuso enter and exit Ignatius' life and all come together in the end to insure a surprisingly logical conclusion for Ignatius.
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