Saturday, October 10, 2009

Prong's 15th Review - A Confederacy of Dunces

Hey there all you LOYAL...LOYAL marauders. It feels like (ok it has been) ages since our last post. I feel like we say this a few too many times than is ok, but we are very pressed for time what with opening a business, being full time students, and attending 'over sleepers anonymous.' So once again, we are sorry that the posts have been so few, and the comments on all our favorite blogs so sparse. Now that midterms are about to come to an end, hopefully we will be able to give all our love and devotion back to you all!

So a few quick announcements before we get to the good stuff. First off, for those of you who signed up for the Good Books Club, we couldn't be more excited to have you! Mother Night promises to be a fun read for all involved, and we hope you were able to find a copy. If any one is still having troubles, check out some sites like or if you are a book swapper, check around those sites. It is easy enough to find a nice cheap used copy and not have to fork over 15$ to B&N which we never recommend. For those of you who have your copies and have started then hurrah!! Make sure to keep us updated on your progress. We need feed back to be able to adjust for future books. Also be sure to highlight all your favorite quotes because we will be asking every one to share at least 1 quote during the discussion! Only a few more week so get those reading hats on and have fun!!

Second, for those of you who have been so WONDERFULLY PATIENT about our dreams of literary mugs, totes, and shirts, your patience is finally about to be rewarded!! Tomorrow night we plan on having a majority of the products up on our band new Etsy shop tomorrow! Look for an update or a twitter post letting you know. We understand this has been a long time coming, and we have been working our hardest to get you the best quality products and designs!! For now we will only have totes and mugs available but that should be enough to tide you over until all of the shirts are finished!! Happy shopping marauders.

Ok so for those of you who were neither excited for the book club or the book items, thanks for hanging in there. Here we go, finally the review you have all been waiting for...
“Canned food is a perversion, I suspect that it is ultimately very damaging to the soul.”
A Confederacy of Dunces
By John Kennedy Toole

Before I talk about the actual story, I thought we’d take some time to share a bit of history behind this modern classic. This book was published in 1980, 11 years after the suicide of the author John Kennedy Toole. Sadly, Toole never got to see the cult following that his story would one day reach, including the post humorous Pulitzer Prize it won in 1981. This novel was only published, due to the efforts of John’s mother to bring the draft to editors and publisher’s, trying to honor her son’s memory. The title is taken from the epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." This idea plays out in a hilarious, unique, gut wrenching way, as Toole exposes our brains forever to the memory of Ignatius J. Reilly, and the book that would be his crowning glory.

A Confederacy of Dunces is not one of those books that one shouldn't read, if they are missing key components of their anatomy. Specifically; their funny bone. From the start, Toole shows his prouis as a comedic master, as we are introduced to the man, the myth, the legend: Ignatius J. Reilly. We meet Ignatius in his natural habitat of New Orleans’s French quarter during the 1960’s. Ignatius is a character to every one, as his obese ornately dressed body, makes it way through the streets of the French Quarter, causing trouble and hilarity where ever he walks. If you are a fan of the ‘The Office’, one can picture Ignatius as a far off cousin of Dwight, and maybe the uncle to Anne of Green Gables. All three characters have a gift for the melodramatic and love to express themselves as loudly and as overdramatic as possible.
“Mother you are standing on my tablets. Will you please move a little? Isn’t it enough that you have destroyed my digestion with out destroying the fruits of my brain also?”
Ignatius is a man who feels out of touch with the world, a true anti-hero to the core, he passes judgment on all that he can, screams out obscenities at the occasional passerby, picks fights with local bartenders, all the while holding himself in the highest regard. For any one willing to talk to him for more than a minute, Ignatius is keen to berate the listener with the same tragic story of the one time he was forced to ride a grey hound bus, and how damaging it was to his sensitive soul.

Ignatius would like nothing more than a quiet life devoted to studying classic literature, eating a frightening amount of food, and writing his life’s work about all that is wrong with the world. Sadly for Ignatius, a term of events in the opening forces him to unwillingly set out into the world that is perishing from its supreme lack of morals, to get a job.
“In addition, I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional chesse dip.”
It is during his many adventures into the work force that the bulk of the hilarity insures in this work, as many characters try to hold on for their lives, as this hurricane of a man tears through each obstacle he is presented with. Prostitutes, hot dog vendors, communists, this book has it all and what is makes it better is the constant commentary and observations that a man lost to his times makes along the way. The confederacy of characters that he meets through his various jobs, really do conspire around him in a way that really makes you question... 'Is Ignatius really this fat slob of a man, or is he a genius?' Each day that Ignatius is forced out into the world beyond the saftey of his room, proves to be a new and hilarious challenge for him as the reader drags him unwillingly page after page to see what chaos he gets himself into next.

While Toole controls the book with a quick and abrupt humor, keeping the reader in a constant state of shock and laughter; he shows his true strength as a writer in his description of a 1960’s southern world, a place that is unique in time and space to every one but those who lived there. His descriptions of the people, the streets, the buildings can take you back to another time where absurdity and lude behavior was the norm, in fact it was demanded.
“I had a rather apocalyptic battle with a starving prostitute. Had it not been for my superior brawn, she would have sacked my wagon. Finally she limped away from the fray, her glad rags askew.”
This book will not change your life, will not make you a better person, and it probably won’t cure cancer. However, it will give you a new appreciation for all of the characters there are in the world, and you will have a blast while gaining it. If you are looking for a laugh out loud, roller coaster of a story, this is the book for you.


  1. Ooohhh so excited to see the Etsy shop! I'm about halfway through Mother Night and LOVE it. I'm pleasently surprised at how hard it is to put down :)

    Another great book review! Might need to add this to the never-ending TBR list!

    Tara SG

  2. I believe I read this in college, my sophomore year, and didn't really like it. However, I plan to give it another chance. AFter a decade of life experience, more knowledge about satire, and a much more intelligent reading palatte, I might have just changed my mind since then.

  3. Very funny book. I still chuckle to myself just reading through your quotes from the book. Her glad rags askew. The guy was a genius. Too bad there's not a sequel. We shall never know if our hero slayed the common good.

    Great review!

    Good call on Mother Night by the way. Really liking it so far.

  4. @ Tara- Glad o hear you are excitied! We know we have been promising the release for awhile, but it has all turned out to be more than we expected. The good news on that is now we have a better quality product and better designs! And glad to hear you are loving Mother Night!!

    @ Amanda - yea I am not sure that I would have gotten all of the subtle humor when I was younger. Actually being such a huge fan of The Office I think helped me, because the whole time I just heard Dwights voice when Ignatius talked, which made it the perfect mental image!

    @ Lula. Yes he really was a master of wit, and it is sad that he took his life so young. I wish he had been around to see the success that his book became. And soo glad to hear you are liking Mother Night! Be sure to either highlight or tab some of your favorite quotes to share during the discussion. Keep an eye out next week for discussion questions to be thinking about for the Sunday.

  5. Glad to see you back in the game...Great review and I love the included illustrations/art.

  6. This is a fantastic review of a wonderful, hilarious but also somewhat troubling book. I have read this book a few times and recommend it to many people, some like it, some don't. I thought it was brilliant and I think your review hit on what's special about this book and that you need to be able to laugh at the absurdity of life!

  7. Well, I've wanted to read that book for a long time, but you know how sometimes the cover is so ugly you just don't want that on your shelves. That's the case with the Canadian edition here. Stupid reason for not reading it, I know. Gash.

  8. @ Bookshelf. yes thank you glad to be back haha. It has been tough getting work done and keeping the blog updated but we are makin it worrkk. Glad you like the drawings. It's amazing what a google image search will turn up

    @Amy Thank you I am glad you liked the review. Yes the humor in this book really lies in the ability to laugh at all the craziness in life. Plus Ignatius' personality is just so funny in itself. You have to remember to not take him seriously haha.

    @ Julie - I COMPLETELY know what you mean. I am big on interesting book covers, and I will almost always drop and extra doller for the nice copy. I never understand 'movie' book covers though. No thanks.

  9. I haven't read it.. I feel that sometimes books that are meant to be on your shelf keep escaping you...

  10. @ young - yea I think I know what you mean. This is a book meant for a fun relaxing weekend. I read it right after bell jar since I really needed an upper and this proved to be just the ticket. You have to get Ignatius' humor though or the whole book will just seem pointless.

  11. I always get tired when I read about all that you manage to balance!! And how cool about your Etsy shop! : )

    Great review .. I read this ages and ages and ages ago and barely even remember it to be honest. The back story is kind of interesting though.


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