The 150-word Review: Among the few absolutes to which I subscribe, here’s one: fat men are funny. John Belushi. John Candy. Chris Farley. Marlon Brando in a muumuu. Funny. There’s a rich tradition of humorous fatsos throughout literature: Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, Shakespeare’s Falstaff. Who? How about Belushi’s Blutarsky? All personify crudeness, gluttony, sloth, and (let’s not forget) flatulence to great comic effect.
Ignatius J. Reilly from John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces belongs to this esteemed lineage. Forced to pay-off a debt for his mother, Ignatius, a genius-behemoth-buffoon, must leave his bedroom (and his beloved rubber glove) on a quixotic trip through 1960’s New Orleans in search of work. Ignatius’ arrogant single-minded disdain for the characters unfortunate enough to intersect his meandering path creates segments of high absurdity. A Confederacy of Dunces illustrates the discordant decadence of New Orleans in vivid detail and captures the distinct dialects of its denizens.
You would like this book if you’re a fan of: fat guys, the Crescent City, flatulence, arrogant buffoonery, creative autoeroticism, self-proclaimed genius, junior varsity strippers, and talented cockatoos.
This book would go great with: a Dr. Nut soda pop or some muscatel.
Cliff Clavinism (stuff that will not make you look cool in a bar): “Actually Norm… John Kennedy Toole was awarded the Pulitzer Prize posthumously in 1980, eleven years after his suicide.”
“Also Norm, did you know… that John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley were each, at one time, rumored to play Ignatius J. Reilly in a film-adaptation of the book before their deaths?”
(A curse? Will Ferrell was also once rumored for the role. After Blades of Glory, let’s hope so. John Belushi as Ignatius J. Reilly? What a shame. That would have been something.)
Reading this book would impress: girls (or guys) with a “teddy-bear” fetish, hunting-cap aficionados, and dialect coaches.