Literature and its litany of heroes are full of tales of woe and the story of this novel and its beleaguered author are no different. After years of failing to have A Confederacy of Dunces published Toole chose to take his own life at the tender of age of 30. Thanks to the tenacity of his mother and her faith in his work it was published posthumously and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1981, nearly twenty years after it was written. Ain't life a bitch!
Perhaps it was this sense of feeling so out of step that allowed him to produce one of the more outlandish protagonists of all time, Ignatuis J. Reilly. The character you love to hate whose misguided piety rains down more destruction than Katrina on those hapless enough to come in contact with him.
NOLA is a city of characters and through the idiosyncratic eyes of the novel's varied cast one begins to form a clearer sense of the eclectic nature of the city and its colourful history.
The obesity-inducing cuisine is robustly embodied within the hulking frame of the Ignatius. A history steeped in racial segregation and oppression is artfully established trough the work place saboteur, Jones and the debaucherous decadence of the strip is offered up through the fabulously flamboyant Dorian.
The Big Easy is based on good times and just as the music leaks from every corner this books laughs spill forth like a broken levy. The twisted satire of A Confederacy of Dunces is the ultimate companion to the quirky streets and freaks, not always comfortable but these pages can match the people of New Orleans for Southern style hospitality.
If you're looking for a better understanding of the tragedy of Katrina then Zeitoun by Dave Eggers is the read.