Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Occasional Series of Ideas for Papers on John Kennedy Toole, Part 17

Thesis #17: Thelma and A Mother's Kisses

This is the first of these occasional ideas that is not directly about A Confederacy of Dunces.

In the Toole Papers, the bibliography of Toole's library included some books published after 1963, the year when Toole wrote most of Confederacy. I did not include those books in the Appendix to Evidence of Influences because they could not possibly have been influences. Nevertheless, one book in particular is very interesting when compared to Toole's own biography.

Though there was no copy of Bruce Jay Friedman's novel Stern in the bibliography (see thesis 15 regarding the influence Stern had on Toole), there was a copy of Friedman's novel A Mother's Kisses. In that book, the mother of the narrator is an oppressively controlling and overbearing person who messes up her son's life. She bears a frighteningly close resemblance to Toole's own mother, as described in Joel Fletcher's memoir Ken and Thelma.

Thesis: Compare Thelma Toole to Meg, the mother in Bruce Jay Friedman's A Mother's Kisses.