Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Confederacy of Dunces --- Day 246

Walk: Sunday off
Distance: 0

Trying to speed read A Confederacy of Dunces for book group tomorrow.  What a brilliant book; John Kennedy Toole out-Twains Mark Twain with brilliantly complex cynical humor.  Unfortunately I am haunted as I read by the knowledge that Toole committed suicide in 1969 at age 31.

Toole had submitted A Confederacy of Dunces to several noted editors and publishing houses. At some point in the rejection process and already in the throes of depression and self-persecution, he decided to shelve the novel  Some time after her son's suicide Thelma Toole found a smeared carbon copy of the manuscript. She had been intimately involved in her sons affairs throughout his life, and now afterwards she doggedly prevailed on the author Walker Percy, then a professor at Loyola University New Orleans to read the manuscript.  When he finally succumbed to Thelma Toole's pressures he described his reaction as incredulous that the novel could possibly be so good.  A Confederacy of Dunces was published by LSU in 1980 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981.

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