Monday, December 11, 2006

Book report: John Kennedy Toole/Confederacy of Dunces

This was one of those books that I was reading on the subway and which caused me to get stopped by a petite and well-dressed middle-aged stranger who gesticulated and exclaimed, "Oh! This book is wonderful! I hope you're enjoying it!"

I do enjoy New Yorkers like that--it's nice to be reminded that there are other people in the world who get so excited about seeing someone else reading a book they enjoyed that they are unable to observe the non-negotiable cold-shoulder protocol of the New York subway social conduct imperatives and end up blurting out something like that to a complete stranger. It's nice, although it then makes for a slightly awkward subway ride, since you've acknowledged another person, had a brief and perhaps soul-revealing conversation with them, and then have to go back to pretending for the remainder of the ride that you've never met and that you don't know they're standing with their briefcase unfortunately but irrevocably shoved into your lower back. Awkwardness. Yum.

But anyway the sad part is I didn't enjoy this book. I knew right from the beginning that despite whatever the editor might have glowed about the posthumous author in his foreword and despite the raving rollicking review blurbs on the back cover, I'm not that into satire (perhaps I'm just too lowbrow) and I find it difficult to grow attached to utterly unlikeable characters with no redeeming qualities (like Ignatius). I found the whole thing cringe-worthy and not particularly funny. Perhaps it was over my head.

Sorry, subway stranger friend.

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