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Summary

The saga of John Kennedy Toole is one of the greatest stories of American literary history. After writing A Confederacy of Dunces, Toole corresponded with Robert Gottlieb of Simon & Schuster for two years. Exhausted from Gottlieb’s suggested revisions, Toole declared the publication of the manuscript hopeless and stored it in a box. Years later he suffered a mental breakdown, took a two-month journey across the United States, and finally committed suicide on an inconspicuous road outside of Biloxi. Following the funeral, Toole’s mother discovered the manuscript. After many rejections, she cornered Walker Percy, who found it a brilliant novel and spearheaded its publication. In 1981, 12 years after the author’s death, A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize.

In Butterfly in the Typewriter, Cory MacLauchlin draws on scores of new interviews with friends, family, and colleagues as well as full access to the extensive Toole archive at Tulane University, capturing his upbringing in New Orleans, his years in New York City, his frenzy of writing in Puerto Rico, his return to his beloved city, and his descent into paranoia and depression.

©2012 Cory MacLauchlin (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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good storey

very interesting if you are going to read a confederacy of dunces which isn't unfortunately on audible yet.

9 people found this helpful

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Poorly researched.

There is hardly any more information on John Kennedy Toole here than you would find with a quick glance at his Wiki page.
Cory Maclaughlin spends more of his energy vindicating some and allocating blame to others to explain Toole's suicide, accusing other authors of having a lack of evidence for their opinions whilst he himself has hardly any.
He seemed to slap Toole's wrist for his behaviour when trying to get published even though Mr Maclaughlin has ridden the coat tails of Toole to get his own book published. There also are many bad and rather unnecessarily attempts to emulate Toole's poetic prose style. All in all OK but not very informative. Mostly assertion rather than fact.

3 people found this helpful

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  • French Quarter
  • 09-07-13

Worth it! Good biography. Informative.

Any additional comments?

Good biography. Informative. Not terribly exciting but not bad either. Great research. Necessary if you enjoy the original book or author's life. I live in New Orleans where the original book and life takes place. It's accurate and I had no issues as a French Quarter native.

I go to New York a lot, know art and students, and can relate to the people and life described... the biography is real and well done.

Don't expect literary miracles from the biography, its just a good bio.

6 people found this helpful

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  • M
  • 11-06-18

Really informative and enjoyable

I learned so much about JKT, one of my favorite writers. Highly recommend this to anyone who finished Confederacy and were left craving more.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Buretto
  • 19-01-20

Engaging, if a bit uneven

It's always interesting to learn about the evolution of a creative mind, particularly one with such a tragic legend as this one. And the book doesn't disappoint on that count. Toole's early years, schooling, early jobs and writing woes are all presented comprehensively. But perhaps too much so, as it drags at times, rehashing themes and somewhat ambivalently focusing on his sexuality. That point is only significant with regard to the length of the book, since the author spends a good deal of time presenting contemporary opinions of friends and psychological indicators regarding Toole's sexuality, and yet ultimately seems to dismiss these as irrelevant. Overall, the story is engaging. However, the frequency, and the inconsistency in the volume and tone, of edits does becoming a bit distracting.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SB
  • 22-08-21

Fascinating Story Palatably Written- Painfully Narrated

I found this biography to be informative and adequately written - not great - but the author did his homework.
UNFORTUNATELY,
I cannot be the only person who found it difficult not to be distracted by the 1950s voiceover style of this narrator. He often made the author’s perfectly palatable writing sound overblown and tedious.
I found the narrator to be out of touch with the nature of the content he was conveying.
It was as if the book were written in ALL BOLD CAPS.
It’s a captivating story if you’re prepared to listen to this guy bark it out at you.