“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”
The genius in this case is the hilariously pompous and delusional Ignatius J Reilly. He is a grossly fat, incredibly self-centred and self indulgent lazy 30 year old, who still lives with his mother. Ignatius sees the modern world as the antithesis of all he holds dear being an adherent of Boethian ideals. The sheer hypocrisy of this character is astounding and yet the reader really is drawn into following Ignatius’ lumbering progress through finding dead end jobs, which he sabotages, to winding up pushing a hot dog cart around New Orleans in his attempt to do as little as possible. However, as little as possible ends up creating as big a possible mess as could be imagined. We are drawn into the mind of a lunatic who believes that he is the only sane person around, and yet all we can do is laugh uproariously.
His slovenly and pathetic mother eventually sees a future for herself away from her son’s cruel treatment and eventually succeeds in driving him away from his self imposed cloister of a bedroom. When he takes off with the wonderfully named Myrna Minkoff we cannot but wonder what a sequel would have made of his adventures in New York.
This book is not one to read in a quiet place, you will end up bursting out into laughter. It is incredibly clever and highly recommended reading.