I encourage all of you to (re)read John Kennedy Toole's rollicking novel, A Confederacy of Dunces. Here is an extract from the Introduction to Joel Fletcher's recent book Ken & Thelma.
According to Wikipedia Thelma Toole is described as educated and "highly cultured" (unlike Irene Reilly), but quite controlling. Toole's father, Ken, was less of a force in his son's life, but hardly absent, either (unlike the barely mentioned Mr. Reilly, he of the "weak seed").
Note, too, that Ignatius is apparently based in good part on his former professor, Bob Byrne, but jumps off as well from Toole's own experiences (e.g., short-lived jobs in a men's clothing factory and vending tamales).
Finally, some pix. (And thanks to Glenn for all these links!)