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Book club: A Confederacy of Dunces


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Arcticle by Anne


We had a lovely evening last Tuesday when we met at Coree and Bas’s new home to discuss our latest read: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. There were 7 of us present and 3 had finished the book just  that day! While most liked the book, all found it rather hard to read. The New Orléans dialogue was humerous, but often hard to decipher and the characters, while funny, seemed a bit over the top. We all agreed that no one would want Ignatius J. Reilly as a friend or neighbor!
We didn’t start discussing the book right away, however, but fist admired Coree’s new home on the grounds of a former cloister on the Bredaseweg in downtown Tilburg. While they are very much still getting settled, the house is full of gorgeous details from designer Bas: kitchen counter + table, lots of built in closets, plus a fabulous stairway!)
Of course, we also selected a new book to read, but it was a tough choice (see below for other titles).

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves – By  Karen Joy Fowler, (336 pages)

***Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014*** Rosemary’s young, just at college, and she’s decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we’re not going to tell you too much either: you’ll have to find out for yourselves, round about page 77, what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. There’s something unique about Rosemary’s sister, Fern. And it was this decision, made by her parents, to give Rosemary a sister like no other, that began all of Rosemary’s trouble. So now she’s telling her story: full of hilarious asides and brilliantly spiky lines, it’s a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice. It’s funny, clever, intimate, honest, analytical and swirling with ideas that will come back to bite you.


I am a longtime fan of Fowler’s work going back to Sarah Canary. WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES was a continuous surprise—mysterious, comic, nostalgic, smart, and humane. Rosemary Cooke is 22 in what she calls the middle of her story, and gets arrested for throwing milk in her college cafeteria. She hasn’t seen her brother in 11 years and her sister disappeared when she was 5. She doesn’t remember how any of this happened, but she’s about to figure it out. I don’t think I should say more about the story, only that I was laughing almost immediately and crying by the last page. I read this book in 2 days. It just doesn’t get any better than tears, laughter, and amazement.

This novel is probably the best thing I’ve read in over a year, and I am a devoted reader. The main character has genuine bad luck and blames herself for it. She has to get over that. She is born into a life she didn’t choose—just as we all are—and she makes the best she can of that life. That’s also what we all must do.

We were all very intrigued by this cryptic description and are already wondering what could have happened in Rosemary’s family??
I am looking forward to reading this book and hope you will as well!
We will be meeting on Tuesday, December 8th – 19:30 at Yolonda’s house and I hope to see you there. We missed a couple of our regular book club members on Tuesday so hope more will be able to join us in December.
Happy reading!

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