A Confederacy of DuncesA Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’ve tried to figure out how this book won a Pulitzer. There were so many better books in 1980. Was it because the author was dead? Was it because no one on the Pulitzer committee read any of the books nominated that year so they threw darts or drew straws or simply counted the pages?

I picked this book after reading a review claiming something to the effect that this was one of the greatest and funniest books ever written by a citizen of the United States since Mark Twain, and it also won a Pulitzer. Who could pass up a claim like that? I should have.

I think Mark Twain would have been ashamed. This book was far from great and only once did I find it anywhere close to amusing.

A Confederacy of Dunces is one of the most tedious, boring, and trite books I ever dragged my mind through (hoping that somewhere along the way the light would turn on and I would have that ‘aha’ moment that put the whole sordid affair in order). However, when the book ended with the main character riding away from the scene of his crimes, I said, “Is that it? That couldn’t be the end.” Then I checked to see if some of the pages had been torn out.

I’m thinking the title A Confederacy of Dunces might not reflect the story it attempts to tell, rather it says something about those who’ve read it.

Most of the book’s characters are either worthless human beings or approaching that status. The most worthless of all is the book’s main character, Ignatius Reilly, who seems to think he is God’s gift to humanity. Most protagonists are supposed to be flawed, but he is more than flawed. He is a pathetic, degenerate who would put any city’s sewage system to shame.

Did I mention this book is boring and tedious?

Page after page of the same drivel. There was one point where I thought the book was going to turn the corner. Ignatius got a job and proceeded to write a rather insensitive, insulting, but slightly humorous letter to a disappointed customer. If Ignatius had taken over the public relations or advertising department of the company it could have become a funny and entertaining book. Instead, the book continues on the same inane path, apparently trying to figure out what it’s all about, which it never managed to do.

I’ve wasted enough time on this piece of twaddle. If you are thinking about reading A Confederacy of Dunces. Don’t.

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