A Confederacy of Dunces: John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole Book
by John Kennedy Toole

Book Comments & Discussion (2)

He reminds me of me.
ComposeRRRRonline today!
I read this book and was delighted by it after hearing the author's story. Toole committed suicide in his early 30s, suffering from depression, in part from the failure to get this book published. From Wikipedia:

After Toole's death, Thelma Toole [his mother] became mired in depression for two years and the manuscript for Dunces remained atop an armoire in his former room. She then became determined to have it published, believing it would be an opportunity to prove her son's talent. Over a five-year period, she sent it out to seven publishers and they each rejected it. "Each time it came back I died a little," she said. However, in 1976 she became aware that author Walker Percy was becoming a faculty member at Loyola University New Orleans. Thelma began a campaign of phone calls and letters to Percy to get him to read the manuscript. He even began complaining to his wife about a peculiar old woman's attempts to contact him. With time running out on his term as professor, Thelma pushed her way into his office and demanded he read the manuscript. Initially hesitant, Percy agreed to read the book to stop her badgering. He admitted to hoping it would be so bad that he could discard it after reading a few pages. Ultimately, he loved the book, commenting in disbelief:

In this case I read on. And on. First with the sinking feeling that it was not bad enough to quit, then with a prickle of interest, then a growing excitement, and finally an incredulity; surely it was not possible that it was so good.

Despite Percy's great admiration for the book, the road to publication was still difficult. It took more than three years, as he attempted to get several parties interested in it. A Confederacy of Dunces was published by Louisiana State University Press in 1980, and Percy provided the foreword. At his recommendation, Toole's first draft of the book was published with minimal copy-editing, and no significant revisions. The first printing was only 2,500 copies, and a number of these were sent to Scott Kramer, an executive at 20th Century Fox, to pitch around Hollywood, but the book initially generated little interest. However, the novel attracted much attention in the literary world. A year later, in 1981, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The book has sold more than 1.5 million copies, in 18 languages.
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A Confederacy of Dunces is an American comic masterpiece. John Kennedy Toole's hero, one Ignatius J. Reilly, is "huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter. His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures" (Henry Kisor, Chicago Sun-Times).
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Jul 2014
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