Pick of the paperbacks: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. New York: Grove Press. $3.50.

This 1981 Pulitzer winner is a farcical, ribald novel. It orbits the figure of Ignatius J. Reilly, a quintessential pessimist who is continually offended by a world ill-equipped to recognize his genius.

Ignatius is a medievalist whose fortunes take a downward turn when he is nearly arrested for being a "suspicious character." Things only get worse when he and his mother run their car into a building, and Ignatius is forced to find a job to pay for the damages.

There is a sort of genius in Igantius's ability to survive and, in fact, better his antagonists, and there was an unmistakable c omic genius in the creator of this book.

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