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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 32 reviews
on August 29, 2001
Ever since I read "A Confederacy of Dunces" and heard the legend about how it got published, I have been interested in the character of its author. This biography provides an interesting look at the life of John Kennedy Toole and sheds some light on a complex man whose inner demons finally destroyed his spirit and ultimately, his life. His mother, probably the greatest influence on John, is drawn as vividly as he is, and comes across as a fascinating and maddening woman who nonetheless always believed in her son's work. Their relationship is at the core of John's life as well as his pain. The ultimate tragedy for us readers is that we won't ever see any more of his work. John's tragedy was that he thought no one would ever want to. A well documented character study that is a must read for anyone who is a fan of Toole's masterpiece!
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on February 15, 2015
Great writer. This book is OK though. It's not as good as some recent biographies I've read recently. But, it still held my interest.
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on December 21, 2001
This book was a terrible disappointment. The authors are apparently barely literate. How the heck did they get a book contract? The scant information here about the mysterious and tragic Ken Toole was useful, but presented in such a way as to be almost unreadable. I want more -- about his life, about his work. I want more -- but not by these authors.
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on April 3, 2002
This is a mostly sad tale about a very talented writer. It really shows the dominace his mother had over him and how conflicted he was about who he was, which in the end was probably why he killed himself. Many writers get rejected, they all don't kill themselves... so it was Nevils and Hardy's job to shed light on the many factors that led to his suicide, which I believe they did very well.
However it's not all dark and gloomy, reading about how insane his mother was quite funny at times, although I wouldn't want to spend an evening at one of her recitals or listen to her ramble on the phone(I have my own mother for that)
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on September 20, 2005
The classical construct of a traditional biography is to end with the subject's death. In the singular case of John Kennedy Toole this is simply not possible, for after his death at his own hand something of his spark animated his eccentric and marginally functional mother to ceaselessly seek recognition of his work and get "Confederacy of Dunces" into print. Finally, in an inspired move that has given the world a great gift, she approached the late blessed Walker Percy and the chain of events that has led to public attention to one of the greatest novels ever written was put in motion: the Wheel of Fortuna finally ascended.

The authors of "Ignatius Rising," the first biography of Toole, Rene Pol Nevils & Deborah George Hardy, therefore, had a difficult choice. To remain true to the discipline of biography, or attempt to mirror the tapestry of existence that Toole both lived and gave expression to in his masterpiece. Sadly, the constraints Nevils and Hardy operated under are all too evident in this important work, for it pulls in both directions and leaves the reader unsatisfied. In addition, the best section is that which details the tension between Toole and his "editor" Gottlieb. The attention which Hardy and Nevils give undoubtedly reflects some of their own experience with their teacher, for they completed this work as part of their requirements for a course in writing.

Nevertheless, this is a work that deserves attention and respect, for Nevils and Hardy have done difficult spade work in uncovering details of Toole's life. For those readers that complain that his life was dull, I assign to the tension Hardy and Nevils felt in sticking with the facts of his life. For the interior life is always more complex than that which is on the surface, for each day the arc of life is actually quite dull: we rise, eat, work, defecate, occasionally copulate, and sleep. That Toole's life had mere routine and a limited life of itinerant academic toil is a fact that cannot be escaped.

What is unsatisfying about this work is that Hardy and Nevils need to re-write it: for this is a first draft, obviously completed for an academic assignment. They need to follow the instinct that is tugging at them throughout, which is to fill in the details of the tapestry of Toole's life, which necessitates departure from the strict biographical construct. Additional interviews with those who knew Toole, even slightly, are needed, as well as additional interviews with former students of his mother, with Walker Percy's daughter, with Robert Gottlieb and those who worked with him during the period, and tougher questions need to be asked of him. Such as: did you demand changes in Confederacy because some of the comic characters were Jewish and that offended you? Do you believe it is okay that poor whites, blacks, creoles, and Italians can be painted with a comic brush, but somehow Jews never can be? These are the tough questions that need to be asked, for undoubtedly Gottlieb is aware of Thelma Toole's own anti-Semitism, which perhaps was only born because of his rejection of J. K. Toole's masterwork.

There is another chapter absent to the Toole story of publication, and it also is dramatic. Toole wrote one other novel, also excellent, "The Neon Bible." Because of the unique inheritance laws of Louisiana, the publication of this novel was delayed by Toole's squabbling heirs on his father and mother's sides. Drama is made of catfights, and this is a story waiting to be told.

In summation, this is an excellent but flawed work, but Toole is so inherently interesting that any scrap, or even a bad job, is worth the candle, for his light was so luminous, even after death, that it shines over flaws. We pray the soul of John Kennedy Toole is received into eternal light, and this work helps us offer up that intercession.
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on December 11, 2008
This is very badly written and appears to be put together by illiterates.
But don't let me stop there, it is not only the presentation that is wanting it is the information. These girls must have learned to write by doing service for the likes of Inquirer or Star...or worse.
If you must have this bit of yellow in your collection get it used and don't contribute to their delinquency.

What Trash!!!!!
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on March 3, 2016
Not his best work. Doesn't compare with The Neon Bible.
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