I was hoping this was going to be funnier than it was. It’s a satirical look at the USAnian way of life through the eyes of one of the great characters of American fiction: Ignatius J. Reilly. He’s a pretty nasty piece of work, totally self-absorbed and living in an unreality enitrely of his own creation.
I didn’t find Ignatius particularly endearing. Neither did I find him entirely repulsive. There’s no doubt that society in the early 1960s was pretty messed up (as it always is), and Toole does a good job of creating messed-up characters who represent the worst of this. I rated it more highly than I appreciated it because it is, after all, an important book in the US literary canon.
There’s no doubt that Toole, whose novel was published over a decade after his suicide, has created memorable characters. But I didn’t really get the point of what Toole was trying to communicate through his creations. Is this a satire, or a farce, or a detective spoof, or all of the above or what?
So, about halfway through, I gave up trying to figure it out and just read it as a story. I think it lost some of its lustre then and seemed to kind of peter out towards the end in which loose ends tied up in fairly predictable ways.
But, if you are after a good description of 1960s New Orleans, I can’t recommend a better book.
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