Reading Bucket List: A Confederacy of Dunces

31 Aug 2017

Reading Bucket List is an ongoing series in which I read a classic book and share my notes and thoughts about it. This is the second post in the series

This book is considered a modern classic by many and, although highly entertaining, I found it difficult to deduce exactly what the author was trying to tell us beyond “here’s how not to live your life” The book’s protagonist, one Ignatious J. Reilly is a rotund individual of questionable sanity and even more questionable morals. He spends the majority of his misadventures blaming his plight on the mythical Fortuna, his mother, some “mongoloid’ or another, or even his misbehaving pyloric valve. Ignatious is the model of fecklessness. Constantly pointing blame at anyone or anything but himself.

Much of the story centers around Ignatious attempting to hold down a steady job to help his mother pay back a small debt she owes. The absurdity that ensues is no doubt some of the more ridiculous and creative (mis)adventure ever put down on paper. It is a cautionary tale about what happens when a person has an unyielding world-view, has no regard for how his actions impact the people around him, is willing lie to protect himself, and refuses to take responsibility for his own actions. In many ways he is the worst manifestation of a human being that you can possibly think of. That being said, I think everyone will probably be able to find a little bit of themselves somewhere in Ignatious. And once you see it you’ll almost certainly be motivated to make some changes so as not find Ignatious so relatable.

One interesting fact about the book that I didn’t pick up on initially is that it’s really all about money. Ignatious needs to work because his mother owes money. Jones needs a job because he doesn’t want to be picked up for vagrancy but is constantly complaining about only making $20 an hour. Ignatious is always trying to squeeze an extra dollar here and there to pay for his movie habit. Mr. and Mrs. Levy are sued for $500,000 due to Ignatious’s actions. Really, the only part of the book that isn’t about money is the ill-fated attempt to create a political party.

Overall I found the book extremely readable, amusing, entertaining and insightful in many ways. It is, without question, one of the most creative and unique books I’ve ever read and it’s because of this that I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.