The Neon Bible

The Neon Bible

Book - 1989
Average Rating:
Rate this:
3
1
1
The first novel by the Pulizer Prize-winning author of A Confederacy Of Dunces. David is a young boy growing up in a small Southern town in the 1940s. From his porch, David can see the whole valley, including the neon Bible that lights up the sky, emblem of the God-fearing folk who snub his family because Poppa can't afford the church dues.
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, 1989.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780802111081
0802111084
9780802132079
0802132073
Branch Call Number: FICTION Toole John 1989
Characteristics: 162 p. ;,22 cm.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment
m
maiki69
Nov 24, 2019

At the age of 31, John Kennedy Toole took his own life. It was an enormous loss to the literary world, although no one yet knew it. Fame for Toole came too late. He'd written a manuscript but struggled to get it published. It's supposed that his dream of becoming a published author proved too elusive, and on March 26, 1969 the promising young writer snuffed himself out of existence.

Fast forward to 1976. Toole's mother, convinced of her son's genius, delivers a manuscript to Walker Percy who was teaching creative writing at Loyolla University. She pronounced it a masterpiece, and - doubtful at first - Percy agreed. In 1981, that manuscript, that "masterpiece", won a Pulitzer Prize for Toole. It was A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, a satirical take on life in New Orleans. With its success, interest in Toole grew, but due to Louisiana's bizarre inheritance laws, his second manuscript - THE NEON BIBLE (Grove Press, $9.00) - would wait eight more years before it could be published.

Written at the age of sixteen, THE NEON BIBLE is an account of life in a small Mississippi town. Set in the forties, it follows the life of David and his family. The town is full of characters, mostly bigoted. A town in which "If somebody got to hate something and he was the right person, everybody had to hate it too . . . " There are a number of town bullies, the preacher leading the way. It's a town that labels poor treatment of others as Christian charity. David and his family are the recipients of such charity in the form of expulsion from the church because they can't afford the dues. It's a town where one's wealth correlates directly with their prestige in the Kingdom of God, and being from the wrong side of the tracks is a sin. About the preacher, David reflects:

"If [the preacher] stole some book he didn't like from the library, or made the radio station play only part of the day on Sunday, or took somebody off to the state poor home, he called it Christian. I never had much religious training, and I never went to Sunday school because we didn't belong to the church when I was old enough to go, but I thought I knew what believing in Christ meant, and it wasn't half the things the preacher did."

David is from the wrong side of the tracks.

When Aunt Mae - about sixty with a sketchy past as some sort of performer "on the stage" - comes to live with David and his family, the town punishes them accordingly. David describes Aunt Mae as "a big bright sweet-smelling flower . . . A red one, maybe, that has a strong smell like honeysuckle, but not quite so innocent." At first Aunt Mae is bold and flamboyant, a source of comic relief, and loveable. As time goes by though, we witness Aunt Mae's bloom fade, a victim of small-minded townies. Eventually, things take a tragic turn.

With THE NEON BIBLE - named for the neon sign mounted atop the church - Toole peels back the exterior of the small Southern town and exposes its ugly substrate. His brilliance, though, isn't in calling out the hypocrisy which invades the whole of town life. The author's brilliance is in successfully capturing the soul of a small town through the eyes of a boy, and leaving us with an indelible record of small town Mississippi life in the 1940s. Toole won a Pulitzer posthumously for CONFEDERACY; it would be terrific to see THE NEON BIBLE take its rightful place in American literature as well.

s
stewstealth
Jun 01, 2018

Amazingly poignant and insightful novel for a sixteen year old to have written. Good characterizations, settings and narrative pace. This short novel is quite unlike the author's A Confederacy of Dunces but worth reading if you are interested.

i
irenecos
Sep 07, 2015

For a 16-year-old writer this novel is very good. Worth reading

Summary

Add a Summary
m
maiki69
Nov 24, 2019

Written at the age of sixteen, THE NEON BIBLE (Grove Press, $9.00) is an account of life in a small Mississippi town. Set in the forties, it follows the life of David and his family. The town is full of characters, mostly bigoted. A town in which "If somebody got to hate something and he was the right person, everybody had to hate it too . . ." There are a number of town bullies, the preacher leading the way. It's a town that labels poor treatment of others as Christian charity. David and his family are the recipients of such charity in the form of expulsion from the Church because they can't afford the dues. It's a town where one's wealth correlates directly with their prestige in the Kingdom of God, and being from the wrong side of the tracks is a sin.

David is from the wrong side of the tracks.

With THE NEON BIBLE - named for the neon sign mounted atop the church - Toole peels back the exterior of the small Southern town and exposes its ugly substrate. His brilliance, though, isn't in calling out the hypocrisy which invades the whole of town life. The author's brilliance is in successfully capturing the soul of a small town through the eyes of a boy, and leaving us with an indelible record of small town Mississippi life in the 1940's.

Quotes

Add a Quote
m
maiki69
Nov 24, 2019

With THE NEON BIBLE - named for the neon sign mounted atop the church - Toole peels back the exterior of the small Southern town and exposes its ugly substrate.
http://www.penhead.org/

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

  Loading...

Find it at My Library

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top