Goodreads.com: Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole’s tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound bus bound for Baton Rouge.
Our hero stumbles from one adventure to the next. His stint as a hotdog vendor (Lucky Dogs) is less than successful, and he soon turns his employers at the Levy Pants Company on their heads. Ignatius’s path through the working world is populated by marvelous secondary characters: the stripper Darlene and her talented cockatoo; the septuagenarian secretary Miss Trixie, gay blade Dorian Greene; sinister Miss Lee, proprietor of the Night of Joy nightclub; and Myrna Minkoff, the girl Ignatius loves to hate. The many subplots that weave through A Confederacy of Dunces are as complicated as anything you’ll find in a Dickens novel, and just as beautifully tied together in the end. But it is Ignatius–selfish, domineering, and deluded, tragic and comic and larger than life–who carries the story. He is a modern-day Quixote beset by giants of the modern age. His fragility cracks the shell of comic bluster, revealing a deep streak of melancholy beneath the antic humor. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 and never saw the publication of his novel. Ignatius Reilly is what he left behind, a fitting memorial to a talented and tormented life.
“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 cheese dip.”
“You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
“Stop!’ I cried imploringly to my god-like mind.”
“Leaving New Orleans also frightened me considerably. Outside of the city limits the heart of darkness, the true wasteland begins.”
“I suspect that I am the result of particularly weak conception on the part of my father. His sperm was probably emitted in a rather offhand manner.”
“The only excursion of my life outside of New Orleans took me through the vortex to the whirlpool of despair: Baton Rouge. . . . New Orleans is, on the other hand, a comfortable metropolis which has a certain apathy and stagnation which I find inoffensive.”