Patrick's Reviews > A Confederacy of Dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
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May 28, 12

Read in May, 2009

** spoiler alert ** A Confederacy of Dunces


In the twentieth century, a large philosophy movement, existentialism, tells us the individual is his or her own agent and responsible for his or her own choices. John Kennedy Toole, the writer who also wrote Neon Bible, revealed that through use of irony as a structure of his funny novel.
The first passage describes Ignatius J Reilly, (as in Really?) wearing a green hat, durable but comfortable clothing, and being morbidly obese with his cartoony blue and yellow eyes. What is truly funny about him was his indignant hypocrisy and blatant lack of self-awareness at how he consistently humiliated himself by trying to control the events in his life. Through dialogues and in German and Irish districts of New Orleans, in the Mediterranean accents like the Greeks’ ‘Poppa.’, it reads like a comedic play. Republicans would have called him a remarkably accurate portrayal of a populist progressive Princeton humanist from his perversions with his beloved but deceased pet dog, his laziness and selfishness in having his mother wait on him hands and knees and his mockery of humanity through his harshly judgmental but slow and sloppy written study of history. Revolving around Reilly are various patched characters who are resigned to their fates in the drudgery of their jobs. There is Lana Lee, the owner of the dive bar and the laconic Jones used to being called a Negro or worse a nigger, and the diva but incompetent waitress, Darlene. There are the affable but tasteless Patrolman Mancuso who became Reilly’s mother love interest, Mr. Gonzales the polite but peon factory manager, and Miss Trixie, the crone of a secretary. More to come are the owners of the Pants industry, Mr. Levy and his generous with other people’s money, wife, Mrs. Levy, and Mr. Clyde who is the owner of a hot dog stand. This is despite the fact that Reilly’s mother life seemingly revolves around Reilly, which explains her frequent wine drinking.
Why I don’t like the character, Reilly, I think it is because some of his flaws remind me of myself and the way I sometimes contradict myself most, some or all the time. However, I find him very fascinating and I love the scenes of his routines. He thinks highly of himself, despite he is dependent on his mother and food for income and pleasure. My favorite scene is of him attempting to lead a worker protest rally within his attempt to work for a living and the hilarious use of his bed sheet as a banner, the exact same stained one that upon it, he performs his own self-adulations. Throughout the book, Mr. Reilly is a true force of a nature disaster, changing the lives of the people around him and making them more humbled and richer in characters than if he had been a straight arrow.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Brian You know the author killed himself because no one would publish this book. After his death his mother sent it out, got published, ands won the Pulitzer. Crazy, great book.


Patrick Yes. It is really sad that he killed himself. It seems that the world is indifferent to the author until he was dead.


message 3: by Bondama (new)

Bondama This is an excellent review of a very difficult book, Patrick. It's really a delight to come across the fact that people are not just reading thrillers and romances, there are a few that still tackle the "big ones!"


Patrick Yes. There's a movie with that Hangover actor, Zack Galifianakis coming out from this book. Truely an excellent choice for an actor since Zack himself is of Greek ancestory. I bet that scene with the unfurling of the banner stained with Zack's output will be a riot to watch if done right.


message 5: by Bondama (new)

Bondama Now THAT'S A a movie I'm going to see!!


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