Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Confederacy Of Dunces

Although set in New Orleans in the 1960s, this satire on society is timeless. Published posthumously (John Kennedy Toole committed suicide and his mother discovered his manuscript), its protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly is a fat, college-educated thirty-year-old who lives alone with his mother and has a fussy “valve.” As he ventures into a world in dire need of “taste and decency,” he stumbles into many “mongoloids” and “degenerates.” I found myself laughing out loud, which I rarely do when reading a novel. Each chapter has an interesting twist with the final pages unveiling Toole's genius as a storyteller. In many ways this book compares to The Catcher In the Rye, only this book is better.