So, has anyone started Super Sad True Love Story? Did anyone finish it? Gimme some feedback!
#2: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
I don’t remember where I first heard about this book, probably on reddit or
gasp livejournal or some such site. I found it soon after at my local HalfPrice Books (anytime I drive past that place I am inexorably pulled in, it’s not really a choice). I started reading it during the summer between (I think) my freshman and sophomore years. At the time, I lived downtown in a neighborhood of old Victorian houses that had been re-purposed as apartments, and I would sit on the front porch when it wasn’t too humid outside and read this book. I probably got some weird looks from the pedestrians walking by because I kept laughing out loud, or, perhaps, guffawing out loud.
The main character, Ignatius J. Reilly, probably won ‘Least Likely to Succeed’ in high school. He is grossly overweight, unemployed (for part of the book), an intellectual of sorts and a Medieval scholar; he lives at home with his mother, and does nothing except write his masterpiece in a Big Chief notebook and go to the movies or errands with his mother. He is gross, smelly, smug, long-winded and self-righteous. He hates everything modern and suffers through 1960s New Orleans like the martyr he is.
Much of the book is written as though from Ignatius’ point of view, for example, from the very first paragraph: “In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly’s supercilious blue and yellow eyes looks down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new enough and expensive enough to to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive only reflected a person’s lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one’s soul.” And it goes on to explain why Ignatius’ choice of a green hunting cap, large tweed pants, a flannel shirt, and a muffler were superior and sensible choices for an ensemble.
From this point onwards, a whole slew of characters pop up and misadventures occur. Poor Ignatius, how does he stand all the torments that Fate has heaped upon his delicate being? Inside everyone there is a little bit of some aspect of Ignatius, which is what makes him so deplorably relatable. At times you sympathize with him, at others you wish reality would give him a good slap in the face; but that’s what is happening throughout the whole book, and Ignatius defiantly remains untouchable.
One of the highlights of the book is Toole’s prose, it’s incredibly clever and hilarious. Absolutely readable, yet it will definitely help your vocabulary (I had to look a few words up myself). Once you recognize good prose, you will never be able to go back to bad prose. This is a wonderful book for anyone with a snarky sense of humor and I can’t recommend it enough.