The hero of John Kennedy Toole's incomparable, Pulitzer Prize-winning comic classic is one Ignatius J. Reilly, "huge, obese, fractious, fastidious, a latter-day Gargantua, a Don Quixote of the French Quarter". His story bursts with wholly original characters, denizens of New Orleans' lower depths, incredibly true-to-life dialogue, and the zaniest series of high and low comic adventures.
©1980 Thelma D. Toole; (P)1997 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Barrett Whitener strikes just the right note." (AudioFile)
"A Confederacy of Dunces has been reviewed almost everywhere, and every reviewer has loved it. For once, everyone is right." (Rolling Stone)
"What a delight, what a roaring, rollicking, footstomping wonder this book is! I laughed until my sides ached, and then I laughed on." (Chicago Sun-Times)
The story is funny and extremely entertaining. Mr. Whitener does every voice and each character has its own personality. This gem is worth more than diamonds. If you're from Louisiana, particularly New Orleans, you will highly enjoy this romp.
For the same reason I never read Don Quixote in college, I also kept this romo at arm's length. But everyone assured me it was hilarious. I wasn't in college for hilarious. They forgot to mention the rich, mad tapestry of undertones that create the map for this mad cartographer's course. Reilly really is one of those larger than life - literally and figuratively - characters that get under your skin and into your psyche. He haunts by force of his world view clouding your own. He is so close to heroism, almost so easy to champion. He's a hell of a flawed protagonist. And you can't help but love his bulk braying brilliance. And Barrett Whitener's vocal interpretation of all the different characters goes from a bit unbelievable to totally illuminating as the outlandish sizes of all these wild folks take on human dimensions. It's the secret power of this book: in absurdity so much truth is told. And when you carry with you through the entire reading the knowledge that John Kennedy Toole embraced this absurdity to its hilt such that this is his only book, such that the pain beneath it all was so palpable and the ability to live in this world so ungainly that his mother had to find a publisher for her suicided son's masterpiece after the fact makes for a bristling up the back of the neck that lingers through all the laughs. After listening to this book you'll only ever have one response to anything that ever galls you again, "Oh My Gawd!"
The narrator is an Abomination!
I heartily agree with Jennifer's 2012 review: "Cringeworthy Narration, Brilliant Story"
This celebrated comic masterpiece should be narrated by someone who can do justice to all the ethnic and cultural voices John Kennedy Toole has rendered with such elegance and teasing affection.
Barrett Whitener sounds like a math teacher from the midwest with no clear understanding of accent or cultural inflection.
In Arte Johnsons' version the sailor-suited Timmy is sassy and fun. In Whitener's version he sounds like he has a severe cleft pallet. Mr. and Mrs. Levy, Johnsons's hilariously bickering Jewish couple just sound grim in Whitener's vaguely southern interpretation.
I don't understand all the accolades Whitener received from other Audible listeners.
I highly recommend the Arte Johnson version, a perfect marriage of book and narrator. I only wish it were unabridged. You have to search for it online which is a real shame as it is by far the better version.
The narration was stilted when he wasn't using an awful accent
I stopped halfway through. It was terrible.
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
This an American classic and on my list of must-read. It won the Pulitzer in 1981. A sort of Don Quixote set in 1950s/1960s New Orleans, the story wittily reveals the complex social structure of the time. You could also say it is a mimic of Huckleberry Finn, just with very different characters and setting. In fact, Toole references Twain's work two or three times in the book. Tool doesn't hold back in Dunces. He goes after every group he believes is judgmental and hypocritical, and that's pretty much everyone. I love Tools's sense of humor which is sometimes displayed in outrageous scenes, but more frequently is subtle and understated.
Narrator Barrett Whitener is awesome. Several times while listening I wondered how one person can perform so many voices so effortlessly. He is one of the few male narrators that can portray a female character without making me grit my teeth.
It was a very Original story, and by the end of the story I had developed a very real affection for the Main Character (Ignatius), and I was very concerned with is well being..
Barrett Whitener does a masterful job bringing the characters to life. Great story by J. K. Toole. Ignatius is a one of a kind but he is a little tiresome after a while. Second time I have listened to this recording.
This book was, as the review title indicates, wildly entertaining and mildly infuriating. The particular charm, however, was that it managed to be both simultaneously. The myriad of colorful characters and the unbelievable circumstances they found themselves in, invoked a vivid and vibrant counterculture bursting at the seams with life. This will most certainly find itself on my "must read again" list.
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