October 19th, 2006

Relax!  Grab a Book!

45 of 50

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  1. Dick, Philip K. — A Scanner Darkly
  2. Stewart, George R. — Earth Abides
  3. du Bois, William Pène — The Twenty-One Balloons
  4. Wells, H.G. — The Time Machine
  5. Toole, John Kennedy — A Confederacy of Dunces

I've now read books by Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, and John Kennedy Toole. I wonder how many more Kennedys I can fit into my reading….

A Confederacy of Dunces was certainly an enjoyable read. I wouldn't consider it a great book, though. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it immensely. I just didn't have that satisfied sigh that so often accompanies the conclusion of a great novel.

Personally, the best scene occurred in the first chapter, where most of the book's major characters collide for the first time. None of Ignatius Reilly's other misadventures seemed quite as hysterical as that first one. I think at least part of that is that Reilly grew tiresome. He's been compared to Falstaff or a fat Don Quixote. Really, Reilly has almost no redeeming qualities—he's just a spoiled, overgrown brat—while Falstaff has several and Quixote is nothing but redeeming qualities.

And Reilly was hardly the only one who grated on my nerves. Just about everyone in this story was so dysfunctional, and I already have more than my fair share of dysfunctional people (including, more than occasionally, myself). Though I laughed at the funny bits, of which there were quite a few, I also winced a lot watching Mr. Levy, Mrs. Levy, Mrs. Reilly, and just about everyone else screwing each other over with their meddlesomeness and inability to listen. I sometimes felt like Miss Trixie, wanting to shout at them all to shut up!

One character I really enjoyed, though, was Burma Jones. I found myself wishing for more of him and less of the others.

Since I have dwelt mostly on the negative, surely I'm giving the impression that I didn't enjoy A Confederacy of Dunces. I did, though. It's a very entertaining novel. I just couldn't help feeling aggravated by the characters and wondering if there'd be anymore laugh-out-loud moments after the opening salvo.

Now, on to the first of two Halloween-appropriate reads.