Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speaking of reading lists...

In the vein of the post below, I found this in Fred Barnes' latest column in the Weekly Standard:
At the end of the session that lasted more than an hour, Bush ran down a list of the books he's reading or plans to. He said he just finished The Great Upheaval by Jay Winik, what he called "a great, great book." Now he's reading a novel, The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Next he plans to read about the 1800 presidential election, A Magnificent Catastrophe by Edward J. Larson. And his now-departed aide Karl Rove has sent him the new book by historian Joseph Ellis, American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding.

Coincidentally, President Bush is now reading one of the books off of the list that I posted yesterday in the comments thread below, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Among my favorite novels, it was unpublished during the author's lifetime, receiving its first printing 11 years after his 1969 suicide. After his mother demanded that Walker Percy read it, Percy was captivated and fought for it to be published. Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1981.

From Wikipedia:
It is an important part of the 'modern canon' of Southern literature.

The title derives from the book's epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." (Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting)

The story is set in the city of New Orleans in the early 1960s. The central character is Ignatius J. (Jacques) Reilly, an intelligent but slothful man still living with his mother at age 30 in Uptown New Orleans, who, because of family circumstances, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.

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