It was the second time around for me with A Confederacy of Dunces and I laughed more this time than I recall doing so on the first go round. Visiting New Orleans since the initial read also allowed me to enjoy it with more appreciation of its locale.
We follow one Ignatius J. Reilly, a whirling dervish whose unintended actions cause many the upheaval on the mean streets of 1960’s New Orleans. Where Reilly goes, disaster ensues.
Ignatius J. Reilly is an overeducated, oversized pedant living a slothful life in his mother’s ramshackle home on Constantinople Street. He disdains his mother, his neighbors, and modern culture and embarks on “a crusade for taste and decency”, in his own very unique way. Rather than scorn this malcontent, he becomes a sympathetic character being cheered on toward victory.
Mother to Ignatius, Irene Reilly, gets her relief from excessive amounts of muscatel. Clearly disappointed in her son’s lack of ambition after 10 years of higher education, she is at her wit’s ends and turns to others for advice, who don’t necessarily have her son’s best interest at heart. A sad woman who is too easily persuaded by others.
Burma Jones works, begrudgingly, as a porter at the Night of Joy bar in the French Quarter to avoid being locked up for vagrancy. His asides are priceless and fortunately for him, sotto voce. His commentaries indicate a man of sagacious ways.
I’d tread lightly with Mr. Toole and let him lead the conversation for fear of his inevitable rebukes. Perhaps we could enjoy a mint Julep or Hurricane and stroll the quarter and listen to some local musicians. Afterwards, I’d attempt to glean some tidbits on his writing methods.
Anyone suspecting that I am a dunce; I am aware of Mr. Toole’s early departure and in each blog post, imagine an encounter with the author, living or not, of each book I review.
My rating for A Confederacy of Dunces is a 10 out of 10.
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