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Why a Critical Biography of Toole?

After two years of research I have had many wonderful experiences in researching for this book. It is difficult to know where to begin. My impulse is to justify why this book needs to be written through academic reasoning, citing its place within Modern Novel Studies or American Literary Biography. While such reasoning led me to the idea to write a biography on John Kennedy Toole, it is not the reason I have dedicated so much time and energy to this pursuit.

I derive motivation from an ever increasing sense that his story needs to be told with sensitivity and objectivity. The most uplifting moments in writing this book have been the opportunities to speak with Toole’s friends. I have found that their love for him runs deep. They still harbor disappointment and pangs of guilt that they could do nothing to save him. They, above all else, offer glimpses into the mind of Toole, his mannerisms and behaviors. And they all feel that his life has yet to be cast into a proper biography.

Through the conversations I have held with people like Joel Fletcher, Pat Rickels and Dave Kubach I feel I have come to know Toole on a more personal level. I can almost hear how he might laugh or the tone of his voice. These are not delusions of my own grandeur. But, as I have found, a necessary process for the biographer to connect with the subject. And through this process of getting to know Toole, I am convinced that he deserves a fair narrative, considering he had so little control over his own legacy.

I am not so bold to suggest I am the only one to undertake such a task. There is another person other than myself, working to understand Toole. Joe Sanford is currently making a documentary on Toole’s life. I invite everyone to visit the film website: Joe and I will continue our collaboration. Our projects are distinct, but we share a similar goal to offer an exploration of Toole’s life.

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