The Dynamighty No.4: A Confederacy Of Dunces

February 6, 2011

I think we all agree that it’s impossible to define objectively what is and isn’t funny, yes? Well, no, actually, let’s not agree that is the case at all, because the only reason why you wouldn’t concur with the notion that A Confederacy Of Dunces is the absolute pinnacle of funniness is because you haven’t got round to reading it yet. Absurd, filthy, wise and true, this is, quite simply, the holy grail of comic novels. Plot-wise, nothing much actually happens: Ignatius J. Reilly, a kind of grown-up version of Spoilt Bastard from Viz but with an enormous scholarly intellect that matches the scale of his girth, self-delusion and flatulency, unwittingly changes the lives of those he encounters as he wanders quixotically from one dead-end job to the other. The real magic is in the dialogue, which revels in the peculiarities of the New Orleans accent as much as Ignatius indulges his horrified fascination with popular culture and the morality of others. And I think we all, at times, have felt a similar kind of splenetic outrage to Ignatius. Or is that just me?

Anyway, ignore the background stories that have enveloped this novel – the tragic death of its author John Kennedy Toole, the movie industry leaving the screen adaptation stranded in development hell for more than 30 years – and simply buy it, read, and laugh like you have never laughed before. There is no other book like it.

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