Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

This novel has a sad origin. Toole was a young writer, unable to place this novel for publication, so he committed suicide at 38. His mother was determined to see it published. She pestered Walker Percy to read it, and he loved it. It was through his intercession the book was published in the late 70s. Percy was not a reliable recommender to my mind.

I was working in a bookstore at the time and decided to see what all the hub-bub was about. I read the book, but, frankly, I was not impressed. It was neither funny, nor poignant, nor grave. I re-shelved it with hardly a backward glance.

Then, one of the members of our book club suggested it for a read. My first thought was, "Ugh!" but then I remembered numerous other books that improved with age, and which I actually came to admire on a second reading.

This book is not one of them. Sorry Thelma (Toole's mother), but I still do not understand all the hype. I invoked the rule of 50 on this one as I got dangerously close to my limit. "Too many books; not enough time." I am on to something better. 1 star

--Chiron, 4/26/08

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