Sunday, 19 June 2011

A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES - John Kennedy Toole, 1980 and MY LIFE IN A COLUMN - Tracey Emin, 2011

I finished A Confederacy of Dunces yesterday and read the whole of My Life in a Column today. (It’s so lovely to have a lazy weekend.)
I wasn’t expecting A Confederacy of Dunces to be such a funny book but it almost made me laugh out loud on occasions. The thought of that preposterous man, attempting to dress like a pirate by wrapping a scarf around his green hunting cap with the earflaps and pinning a cutlass to his smock, endeavouring to sell hotdogs but eating most of them himself, has me smiling as I write.
I hate belching and body odour and uncleanliness in general so his exploits make me cringe as much as smile. I can understand why someone would appreciate his single-minded assault on the modern world but not how they could wish to identify with the man himself.
Emin’s book (a collection of her writings for The Independent newspaper) is almost one long apology. She is sorry for just about everything she has ever said and done, apart from her art. But that is the essence of the woman and the artist. She frequently lays herself bare and then withdraws like a wounded animal. In Ignatius J Reilly, on the other hand, Toole has created the Great Unrepentent, a man who believes absolutely that he is right and the rest of the world is wrong.

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