On John Kennedy Toole’s Birthday

JKT in his father's car. Father and son were both passionate about automobiles. In the end, JKT chose to end his life in one.

JKT in his father’s car. Father and son were both passionate about automobiles. In the end, JKT chose to end his life in one.

Toole’s mother used to talk about how exceptional her son was from the moment he was born.  He had a “a light in his eyes.” Supposedly the nurse said she had never seen a newborn child so aware, almost like a six-month old.  And of course, he was a natural-born leader, because when he would start crying, all the other babies would start crying as well.

When asked about his personal history, Toole told his story a bit differently. His parents had been trying to get pregnant for nearly a decade, but Thelma was unable to conceive. With no child and constant financial hardship, Thelma and John grew distant from each other….

But in 1937 the Fates spun an unexpected thread.  One day at a party, which is never without libations in New Orleans, Thelma Toole tripped on some steps and tumbled to the ground. The fall must have jostled her insides enough to remove whatever stood in the way of her and motherhood, because shortly thereafter, she got pregnant. And her son, telling the story of his mother’s fortunate fall, relished the accidental nature of his origin.

He tumbled into this world on December 17, 1937. Happy Birthday Ken!.

2 Comments

Filed under john kennedy toole

2 responses to “On John Kennedy Toole’s Birthday

  1. Patricia Jempty

    This has probably been noted but Ginsberg’s poem is Kaddish not Kiddush. Enjoyed your book. I’ll have to reread Confederacy but one of my kid’s has it.

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