The perverted (and I suspect quite dangerous) mind of Clyde has devised still another means of belittling my rather invincible being. At first I thought that I might have found a surrogate father in the czar of sausage, the mogul of meat. But his resentment and jealousy of me are increasing daily; no doubt they will ultimately overwhelm him and destroy his mind. The grandeur of my physique, the complexity of my worldview, the decency and taste implicit in my carriage, the grace with which I function in the mire of today’s world – all of these at once confuse and astound Clyde.
So writes Ignatius Reilly, hero of A Confederacy Of Dunces, in his trusty Journal, one of the main devices employed by the novel’s author, John Kennedy Toole. I’ve recently rediscovered this incredible book as Gemma’s currently reading my copy and I’ve purloined an audiobook version to listen to on my journey to and from work.
‘Dunces’, for those who haven’t yet read it, is one of the finest comic novels ever written. Telling the story of Reilly and his one man struggle against modernity (and his valve), the book’s set in New Orleans in the 1960s and features a range of outlandish and hilarious characters, though none more outlandish or hilarious than Ignatius himself. If you’ve never read it, go and buy a copy tomorrow, stop reading whatever you were reading before, and devour this masterpiece. If you’ve already read it, read it again.