Toole, John Kennedy: A confederacy of dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces’ by American novelist John Kennedy Toole was discussed by the group, but no detailed record survives of the event.

The proposer recalls that he first read the book many years ago and found it very funny, but on his second reading in preparation for the discussion he discovered that there were substantial parts of the book that seemed to fall a bit flat. Although the central character Ignatius Reilly is a brilliant invention, there is less sure-footedness in the depiction of some minor characters, such as Mr and Mrs Levy, whose antics seemed tiresome on a second reading. However, during the discussion the parts of the book involving them were defended by another reader.

 A strength of the book, in addition to its humour, was the depiction of the seedy underbelly of 1960s New Orleans, and the rendering of speech patterns, notably in the case of the minor character Burma Jones, the cleaner/janitor at a strip club.

 The group’s verdict overall was positive, and most of us enjoyed the read.