Monday, March 19, 2012

New Bio: John Kennedy Toole

Butterfly in the Typewriter, a new biography of John Kennedy Toole by Cory MacLauchlin, is due for release later this month.

Its full title is Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces, and it's out on March 27, 2012.

John Kennedy Toole
Mark your calendars.

A Confederacy of Dunces has been one of my favorite novels for more years than I care to acknowledge. I read an earlier biography of Toole called Ignatius Rising and was underwhelmed. And according to a memoir by Toole's friend Joel Fletcher (Ken and Thelma), that biography is at best hackwork. I strongly suggest you avoid it. The less said of it, the better.

I was so intrigued by the forthcoming Butterfly that I contacted its author a year or so ago. Mr. MacLauchlin kindly wrote back and we corresponded briefly. One of the things I was keen to know was, How much of Toole's archived material survived Hurricane Katrina?

"I [spent] a week in the Toole Papers at Tulane," he wrote back, "digitizing almost everything in the collection for this project...on my first day I overheard some archivists discussing their massive loss of 19th century newspapers. I asked them the same question you asked me.  They told me that all the Toole papers were a couple inches from the flood water."


There appears to have been some materials that would have been pertinent to this project that were in fact lost. Not surprising, but still a great pity.

For more about the book, see Cory MacLauchlin's official web site.

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