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A Confederacy of Dunces

March 31, 2010

I seldom read forewords and prologues.  I like to come to my own conclusions about the book, rather than be subjected to someone else’s view of it before I have even had a chance to read the thing. This being an audiobook, however, it was difficult to avoid it.  It was terribly saddening to learn that the author had killed himself before his novel ever saw the light of day.  It was released posthumously after John Kennedy Toole’s mother lobbied for its publication. It was an instant hit, and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Audiobooks are a fairly new experience for me.  I listened to my first one only a month ago. At nearly the same moment that I decided to start this blog, I also realized that I could augment my traditional reading by listening to audiobooks.  I can use a service from my local library to download them to my computer and transfer them to either CD or iPod.  A Confederacy of Dunces was the first one I listened to after finally sorting out how to upload them to my iPod.  With winter thawed away, I began taking walks for exercise and Ignatius Reilly was there with me every step of the way for the first two weeks as I established this new routine.

This strikes me as the Seinfeld of novels.  It’s a novel about nothing.  I could scarcely describe it to DH. “Well, it’s about this guy and his mother, and he needs to get a job, but he keeps telling this awful story about a bus ride to Baton Rouge, and then his mother takes up bowling…” Nevertheless I found it very amusing.  Not laugh out loud funny, just subtly wry and farcical. It struck me as a sort of study of the enormous range of ridiculous ways we all rationalize things in our lives.

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