The Neon Bible

John Kennedy Toole, Author, W. Kenneth Holditch, Introduction by Grove/Atlantic $15.95 (162p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1108-1
Written by the late Toole at age 16, this novel on its surface has little in common with his Pulitzer Prize-winning A Confederacy of Dunces . Whereas Dunces is, in Walker Percy's words, ``a great rumbling farce of Falstaffian dimensions'' satirizing modern society via a cast of grotesque New Orleans characters, the early novel is a lyrical attempt at realism in which social criticism is implied but not stated. Growing up in a small town in rural Mississippi, David gradually learns the painful lessons of religious, racial, social and sexual bigotry, and comes to perceive the need to defend himself, a reluctant outsider, from people; in Dunces , Ignatius Reilly, who rallies around the cause of social isolation and misanthropy, has long practiced a vigorous campaign against the evils of society. One novel chronicles an awakening, the other an uproarious and bizarre plan of action. Though interesting to read as a naive effort by a writer who later far surpassed it, The Neon Bible is a compendium of authorial first steps and missteps, from awkwardly obvious moralizing to mawkishness and improbable melodrama. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-8021-3207-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-2558-4
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