Here’s a review from the Oxford American of some things most of us will never be able to read: John Kennedy Toole’s unpublished writing. Toole, the author of A Confederacy of Dunces, killed himself in 1969, long before his masterpiece was published. His papers are collected at Tulane university in New Orleans.
The review doesn’t tell us much new about Toole, but reiterates what we already knew: there is far too little writing by Toole in the world. The box of papers in the library at Tulane is it. Another box of his writing was lost in a flood.
Toole’s protagonist in Confederacy, Ignatius J. Reilly, is a gift. The story itself is madcap. If you haven’t read Confederacy or his later work, The Neon Bible, we commend them to you. Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1981.
So what does this have to do with veterans’ writing? John Kennedy Toole served as a soldier in the early 1960s, primarily as an English language instructor in Puerto Rico. RIP Sergeant Toole.