Reversing the Numbness

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The A Confederacy of Dunces Excerpt of the Day

This is the beginning of a new regular feature here on RtN. For those of you who don't already know, John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces is among the greatest books ever written. It's ingenius, shocking, hilarious, and on more occasions than I could count I was forced to put the book down, close my eyes, and shake my head at a paragraph or passage that was so perfectly written I couldn't bear to move on and leave it behind.

So every now and then I'll post a short excerpt from the book, if for no other reason than to remind myself of how extraordinary it is. (It won the Pulitzer, so I'm not the only one who thinks so.) Today, I think it's appropriate to start with the opening paragraph.

A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly's supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. Several of the outfits, Ignatius noticed, were new enough and expensive enough to be properly considered offenses against taste and decency. Possession of anything new or expensive only reflected a person's lack of theology and geometry; it could even cast doubts upon one's soul.

4 comments:

The Dalai Mama said...

Ahhhh. Good old Ignatius J. Reilly. Hot dogs, anyone?

Raoul Duke said...

I love this book.

it opened up my valve :)

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to other excerpts.

SleekPelt said...

Welcome, Anonymous! Note that I posted a second excerpt later, and I'll most certainly keep it up. Thinking about Ignatius J. Reilly has a tendency to clarify my worldview.