John Kennedy Toole

confederacy of duncesJohn Kennedy Toole was craftsman who comprehended the unreasonable nature of things and through his Pulitzer prize-winning novel uncovered the very essence of New Orleans. He depicted its characters, its corners, its mysteries, and feeling of rot, that wanton flavor that he knew so well. This is a standout novel amongst modern American writing and the story of how it came into existence is as disturbing as the untimely death of the author.
Toole was an insider and captured dialect like no other, none could match his remarkable gift for voice, for character, not Sherwood Anderson, Tennessee Williams, nor Faulkner, as these writers were all writing from outside, whereas Toole was New Orleans through and through, he was part of the fabric, and he depicted it in a way that nobody else ever has.
In letters he showed that he was constantly planning books, writing characters, imagining scenes. He had an extremely sharp eye and an exceptional gift for comedy that helped him to reproduce New Orleans in the zaniest and funniest of ways.
His Southern gothic novel, a grand comic fugue, features a wonderfully offbeat cast of insane characters.
Sadly, the book almost never made it into print. Suffering constant rejection by New Yorker editor, Robert Gottlieb, (initially enthusiastic) who tragically lost interest in the novel, calling it pointless. Gottlieb insisted that the book had no meaning, and essentially, no plot. This verdict from a major publishing house (Gottlieb worked for Simon and Schuster at the time) caused J K Toole finally to give up on his masterpiece and stash it away.
Luckily, after his death, his mother, Thelma Toole resurrected the original manuscript, and Toole went on to win the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction.
RIP JK Toole.

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