Relocated from the suddenly very literary Random Thought thread
barelyawake wrote:Don't have to like it. Merely have to respect it. And honestly, I respect pretty much every piece of art out there, even when I don't like it. And I really wasn't responding to you, mon. I was responding to the "worst book I have ever read" comment.
I wouldn't have listed the artists if I hadn't personally heard them mention the book as inspiration for their work. And the fact that it takes 400 pages to tell the same joke is why it gets funnier -- see every comedian retelling the Aristocrats joke for decades.
I saw a documentary on the Aristocrats. It's far from the funniest joke I've ever heard, but it can be hilarious repeatedly in the right context. The comedians in the movie obviously held the joke in high regard, but seemingly not always for the same reasons. In its telling and retelling it became less funny and more clinical, to my mind serving (in the movie) as a demonstration of comic craft as much as anything else.
I would never call A Confederacy of Dunces the "worst book I have ever read" (I don't know what I would assign that title to, but I hope i didn't finish it) or even a bad book, because too much writer's craft went into it, there's simply too much there (I didn't see it as a one-joke novel, more a complex framework of parallel and interconnected jokes), and too many people I know whose opinions are not easily dismissed loved it.
I once read an essay on the novel The Recognitions, William Gaddis' first novel. I've never read it, but my wife and some other friends have, and they all love it. The novel was widely panned when it came out, but is now on Time magazine's 100 greatest novels (or English language novels, I forget how they phrase it) of the 20th Century. Much academic attention is spent looking at how a now-recognized "masterpiece," which itself dealt with the recognition of masterpieces, was overlooked by so many in its time. With all the back story I have on A Confederacy of Dunces, I still may be missing the boat on it.