Ignatius J. Reilly is an overweight 30-year-old deluded eccentric that lives at home with his widowed mother in New Orleans circa 1960. While that plot beginning doesn’t sound like it would make for a great read, this is truly one of the best books I’ve ever read. As the title suggests, each character is a fantastic dunce in their own way. The author weaves together a hilarious and intricate tale of mishaps, plunders, and comic tragedy (winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1981).
I’ve tried to write a plot review of this great book several times now, but each time my review seems unworthy of communicating the genius of Toole’s writing, humor and characters. As such I’ll leave you with just a few quotes from the book:
“With the breakdown of the Medieval system, the gods of Chaos, Lunacy, and Bad Taste gained ascendancy.”
“You can always tell employees of the government by the total vacancy which occupies the space where most other people have faces.”
“I avoid that bleak first hour of the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make ever chore a penance. I find that in arriving later, the work which I do perform is of a much higher quality.”
“I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.”
I’ve also read that they are making a movie of this great book, where Zach Galifianakis is slotted to play the protagonist… which sounds about right. Do yourself a favor and read the book first though.