Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Required Reading

"I am at this moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip."
John Kennedy Toole (A Confederacy of Dunces)

The display tables at Barnes and Noble might lead one to assume that A Confederacy of Dunces is required reading for high schoolers in New Orleans. I can only hope that that is the case. There aren't many books that have caused me to laugh out loud my second time through, let alone merit a second reading. The characters and circumstances in the novel are as unique and curious as those surrounding its author and publication. A literary void as massive and unpredictable as Ignatius J. Reilly himself was left with the early end of his creator.

Just before I left for New Orleans, a friend recommended the book.   I didn't think much of it at the time, but several months later I stumbled across an old hardcover copy stuffed among the moldy merchandise in a thrift store's back room.  The title page was scrawled with personal notes from previous owners passing the book along to others.  One dollar spent and I can never look at a Lucky Dog vendor on Bourbon St., nor walk by the statue of Ignatius that stands on Canal St. without a chuckle and a nod.  I just might add my own note to the opening pages of this copy and send it back to the thrift store so that Fortuna may bestow it up some other unsuspecting reader.  

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