A Confederacy of Dunces

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A Confederacy of Dunces Audiobook

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Review #1

A Confederacy of Dunces audiobook free

If you’ve heard of this book, but not read it, you’re probably aware of the troubled circumstance of its publication. Several years after having failed to be published, Toole committed suicide. The story of the book would have ended there, except Toole’s mother found the typescript and carted it around to people in the literary community. After much persistence and not taking no for an answer, she managed to get Walker Percy to read the manuscript, and the rest is posthumous Pulitzer Prize winning history.

It would be easy to dismiss the editors involved in rejecting this manuscript as grade-A lunkheads, or as the lead character (Ignatius J. Reilly) likes to verbally skewer his victims “Mongoloids.” However, one can see how said lunkheads would find this much-beloved novel risky. It’s a character-driven novel in which the lead character is obnoxious and unlovable in the extreme. Reilly is a pretentious and pedantic professorial type–verbally speaking– wrapped into the obese body of a man-child who is emotionally an ill-mannered five year old with a bombastic vocabulary. Reilly has no impulse control, takes no responsibility, and is prone to tantrums, sympathy-seeking dramatic displays, and wanton lies. He’s the worst because he thinks he’s better than everyone despite the fact that in all ways except his acerbic tongue, he’s worse than everyone.

That said, the book—like its unsympathetic lead character—is hilarious through and through. What it lacks in a taught story arc and a theme / moral argument (the latter being why the editor at Simon and Schuster rejected the book after showing initial interest in it) it more than makes up in hilarity.

I should point out that when I say that this isn’t a plot-driven book, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have an interesting wrap-up at the end—which I will not discuss to avoid spoiling it. The plot revolves around events in the life of a lazy man-child forced to go to work. It’s not a journey of change, discovery, or adventure. While, in most cases, a character-driven story with an unmalleable lead would be a recipe for a book that flops, here it keeps one reading to the last page because it’s Ignatius’s failure to become a better man that ensures the book is funny to the end. Reilly is constantly making decisions that are both overly contemplated and yet ill-considered.

The book follows Ignatius Reilly through an event that results in a tremendous loss of money for Ignatius’s mother. This forces her to finally put her foot down and insist the man—who she still thinks of as her little boy—get a job. It should be noted that Ignatius’s mother’s eventual coming around to the monster her son has become is a major driving force in the story—though we can see a distinct lack of taking of responsibility that echoes that of Ignatius, himself. Ignatius gets a fine—if lowly, clerical–job at the slowly-dying Levy Pants Company, but gets fired after he encourages a worker protest that goes awry. He then gets a job as a hotdog cart vendor—a job considered the lowest of the low by both his mother and New Orleans’ society-at-large. The latter is the job he has at the end when a final chain of events unfolds (not without tension and drama, I might add.)

On the theme issue, the Simon & Schuster editor was correct that the book isn’t really about anything except how to muddle through life as a lazy, cranky, emotionally-stunted, and overly-verbose doofus. (But he was oh-so wrong about that being a lethal deficit—according to the Pulitzer Prize committee as well as innumerable readers.)

I’d recommend this for any reader with a sense of humor. You won’t like Ignatius J. Reilly, but you’ll find his antics hilarious, and you’ll want to know what happens to him in the end even if he is irredeemable.

Review #2

A Confederacy of Dunces audiobook Series

Being a complete stranger to this very famous and highly praised novel, maybe I should caution other newcomers that the ‘confederacy’ of the title has nothing to do with Dixie. It comes from a statement by Swift that one can tell a genius from the way the ‘dunces are all in confederacy against him.’ The cast of the book are, one and all, clowns and caricatures, but for me the dunce-in-chief is none other than the eminent critic Robert Gottlieb. I don’t for a moment blame Gottlieb as having the slightest responsibility for John Kennedy Toole’s suicide, brought on by the rejection of the book. What I do find utterly crass is the reason Gottlieb gave, namely that the story ‘is not really about anything.’ Many is the book that I myself have left unread on discovering from a certain type of review that I could read allegories or subtleties into what had otherwise seemed likely to be an entertaining read. Toole himself pillories that kind of thing when he has the trend-obsessed Myrna Minkoff report (of a Kenyan exchange student writing a dissertation on 19th century French symbolists at N.Y.U) that he ‘rips at reality and tears aside concealing veils’). I have not heard that anyone has elucidated some deep underlying significance in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, but I should like to see someone set about it.

Review #3

Audiobook A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I bought this book because Billy Connoly said in his latest TV show it was the funniest book he had read. He described lending it to his daughter and hearing her laughing out loud while reading it in her room. I have persevered as far as page 186 (approx. half way) and can’t find anything hilarious about it! I wonder what Billy Connoly thinks of Terry Pratchett who was really funny.

Review #4

Audio A Confederacy of Dunces narrated by Barrett Whitener

I have honestly known and encountered a few real people during my life with some traits that I can see in that of the personality and mindset of this book’s main character, Ignatius J Reilly, but he’s got the lot, all of their quirky traits (and their collective body weight too) all rolled into one. I was amused at trying to work out the potential of the parental influences which may have created the dysfunctional personality of this character and laughed time and time again at the mayhem he created due to his assumptions of what was right or wrong inside his own oddly programmed mind. It is a fantastically entertaining piece of fiction that is funny yet possessing an underlying expression of melancholy at the same time. I was beginning to suffer from aliteracy due the predictable plots in paperback books these days but read that Billy Connolly found it to be a great read and, loving Billy’s humour, I thought I’d give it a try. Yep, it’s a great read, like nothing I’ve ever read before. Worth 5 stars for sure.

Review #5

Free audio A Confederacy of Dunces – in the audio player below

This book is unbelievably funny, recommended by the big yin himself so a no brainer for me. The author has an ability to keep one reading, and I will now read it again SLOWLY because I read it almost in one sitting, eager to read the next chapter. If your going on a long flight, take this book, you will be at your destination before you know it. I shall buy this book as a present for many people, it really is perfect for my sense of humour. I thank his mothers persistence in getting it published.

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