The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Month: January, 2010

Reaction to A Confederacy of Dunces

I have just set down A Confederacy of DUNCES by John Kennedy Toole.  I enjoyed it immensely.  I was led to this missive by someone at the Loft Literary Center.  I had taken a class on the art of writing a query letter to an editor, and during the course of the class the teacher asked us to describe our book (if we had written one) in one sentence.

I described Someotherville, of course, being my only novel, and the teacher’s reaction surprised me.  (I remember his name now – Brian Malloy)  His reaction to my description of Someotherville was to tell me that it reminded him of A Confederacy of DUNCES. He explained that Confederacy was written by a man who had committed suicide, and his mother had published the novel posthumously.

I was a little confused as to whether that was a part of the story itself, or a story about the novel.  It really isn’t much like Someotherville at all, because in my novel, the main character’s husband has died, leaving several half-written manuscripts; she spends her time trying to finish writing one of them.  I doubt that Mrs. Toole had to write any part of Confederacy.

Regardless, I am happy that he mentioned the book, and I am happy that I have now read it.  I am also happy that it doesn’t really reflect the same story line as my novel and I can still pursue finding a publisher.

I do agree that Confederacy is brilliant, and I am happy that it won the Pulitzer Prize.  It’s too bad that Mr. Toole killed himself before his book was successful.  I loved the dialogue and just the idea of this character, Ignatius J. Reilly.  I was reminded of so many different characters I have known in life – none of whom I particularly wish to see again – and it gave me many pangs of grief that I have never seen New Orleans.

I feel that I am letting my vocabulary in this essay exude the influence of Mr. Reilly’s character – overblown and grandiose.  But sometimes it is fun to write in just such a manner.

I don’t want to blow any of the mysterious secrets of the novel by writing too much about it – suffice it to say that it’s entirely enjoyable, perhaps there were one or two pages in the middle that lost me for a moment, but it picks back up and then steamrollers to the end.  Read it, by all means, and formulate your own opinions!

🙂 Sheila


So it’s 2010.  I remember very well having imagined what my life would be like at this time.  I was perhaps in 5th grade, and we were to write about what we would be like – how old would we be?  38.  I’m sure there were other questions, but that one pretty much blew me out of the water.  When I was a kid, I couldn’t ever imagine being even one year older, so 25 or 30 years was just too much for me.

Now that I’ve made it to this point and the memory of that prediction keeps coming up in my mind, it gets me to thinking about what my life will be in another 25 or 30 years, should I be so blessed as to live that long.  Again, I do not see it.  I cannot imagine myself at 60 or 65.  Retirement age, for many.  The way I feel right now, I don’t think that I would ever want to retire.  But that’s probably because I feel terrific.  Maybe in another 30 years I won’t feel so great.

Or maybe I will.  If I keep on with being vegan, which I will, and if I keep on with exercising, which I will, maybe I will feel wonderful.  Guess I will have to wait and see.

As far as retirement, I don’t know!  I guess that depends on if I am doing something that I would want to retire from.  I’m reasonably sure that I won’t be teaching high school at that time.  I find it far more likely that I will be writing books or plays, at least in my mind’s eye.

I’ll still be with Jay.  My nieces and nephews will be in their 40’s and 50’s.  Maybe Someotherville will be published…

It’s actually not that interesting to speculate on a time that is so far away.  I think I will focus my energies into the present – I am more interested in what is going to happen in 2010.  There are lots of possibilities.  Ahh, and that’s where the sentence ‘Maybe Someotherville will be published…’ should really fall!  I am working on my query letter.  Which is a laughable way of saying that it’s on my to-do list.  If I was actually working on it, it would be done in a matter of hours at the most. Just like working on my resume – only takes a small amount of time, but the working up to it is the hard part.  So perhaps I should say I am working up to working on a query letter for Someotherville – because frankly, the last one wasn’t up to snuff.

Query letters are hard for me, I think, because of all the mental blocks I have around the intent.  The intent is to ask some agent to please take a look at my work and see if they want to publish it – simple enough.  The blocks are just insecurities – but they can feel insurmountable.  Luckily they are not insurmountable – they are not even real.

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