“A remarkable and charming book . . . welcome and likeable . . . a must-read.”
—Poppy Z. Brite, author of the best-selling novels Liquor and Prime, as seen in the New Orleans Times-Picayune
“This valuable companion to Dunces will be a treat to those who’ve enjoyed the novel. . . . Mr. Fletcher’s writing style is graceful, intimate and accessible. . . . I can’t imagine a better weekend’s reading.”
—Larry Thornberry, Washington Times
Before it won the Pulitzer Prize and became an international bestseller, A Confederacy of Dunces was a rejected manuscript by an unknown New Orleans professor named John Kennedy Toole. It languished in his mother’s closet after Toole’s suicide for years until his mother discovered it. Almost as compelling as the novel’s plot is the dramatic story of the book’s publication, the author’s early suicide, and his posthumous winning of the Pulitzer Prize.
With the help of personal letters, his contemporary journals, never-before-published photos, and numerous quotes from Toole’s personal correspondence, author Joel L. Fletcher recalls his friendship with Toole—known as Ken—during the early 1960s. Far from a gloomy depressive, Toole was a delightful companion, witty and sociable, as well as a loyal correspondent until his final four years. Most of the many fascinating episodes in this book are Fletcher’s recollections of his close association with Ken’s indomitable mother, Thelma Ducoing Toole, after the publication of A Confederacy of Dunces. Although generally described as a tyrannical stage mother, Thelma emerges as a formidable—but sympathetic—figure swept up in a phenomenon of her own creating.
About the author
A native of Louisiana and a graduate of Tulane, Joel L. Fletcher worked with Toole at what is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He lived abroad in Italy, France, and England, studying and collecting art while teaching and working for the Council on International Educational Exchange and the City University of New York. Fletcher is a fine-art dealer focusing on nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American and European art.