The Neon Bible
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The Neon Bible

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  3,360 ratings  ·  262 reviews
John Kennedy Toole, who won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his best-selling comic masterpiece A Confederacy of Dunces, wrote The Neon Bible for a literary contest at the age of sixteen. The manuscript languished in a drawer and became the subject of a legal battle among Toole's heirs. It was only in 1989, thirty-five years after it was written and twenty years after Toole...more
Paperback, 162 pages
Published January 12th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1989)
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Dec 04, 2012 Tfitoby rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: lit
I really wanted to like this, I really don't want to criticise the writing of the teenage John Kennedy Toole, but the fact is that this is a book that was only published because of greed. It could have used an editor but mostly it could have used not being written by a 16 year old. He was clearly a very talented young man, his writing is beyond anything I can imagine a 16 year old writing today lololololjkjkjkjkjk but still this reads as though written by a naive boy.

Neon Bible has been compared...more
Se ve que John Kennedy Toole escribió 'La Biblia de neón' cuando tenía 16 años y que luego la rechazó porque el estilo le parecía demasiado juvenil. Pero a mí me ha encantado, precisamente por esa mirada infantil e ingenua que tiene. Como todo está narrado precisamente desde el punto de vista de un niño que luego se convertirá en adolescente, que encima siempre ha recibido una educación muy rudimentaria y que siempre ha vivido aislado, el estilo simple, directo, repetitivo y algo limitado funcio...more
Da pena pensar dónde podría haber llegado John Kennedy Toole de no haberse suicidado a tan temprana edad. Sin lugar a dudas era un genio. 'La Biblia de neón' fue la primera novela que escribió, siendo apenas un adolescente, y sólo puedo decir que es una obra con fuerza, con imágenes indelebles que permanecen a fuego en la memoria tras varias horas después de su lectura.

Toole nos cuenta la historia de David y de su familia en un pueblo sureño de Estados Unidos, cuya población, o la mayor parte de...more
Noran Miss Pumkin
Oct 06, 2013 Noran Miss Pumkin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults only
Recommended to Noran by: JEF
The first lines of this book were so vivid for be, I could see exactly what the author wrote. I just kept re-reading them.
It is such a powerful book, I often recommend highly to others. It was made into a film in the last decade, but got little play and lesser reviews. If you like "Ironweed", this is your cup of joe.
Toole committed suicide at the age of 32, leaving behind two unpublished novels and an impressively determined mother who succeeded – after much badgering – in gaining the novelist Walker Percy’s interest and support in the manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces. As we know, this was then published to instant and great acclaim and has been continuously in print ever since, and translated into numerous languages.

While The Neon Bible was in fact written before A Confederacy of Dunces, it only came...more
Edith Wasco
La historia me llamó la atención desde la reseña de la parte de atrás y al comenzar a leerlo no me decepcionó. El pueblo que Toole describe se me antojo casi real. Más que el estilo de la prosa (bueno a secas), resalta el tema de la obra y la crítica social que hace al fanatismo religioso dominante en los pequeños pueblos estadounidenses antes y durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Me dejó pasmada el hecho de que fue escrita cuando Toole tenía apenas 16 años. La juventud del escritor y lo corto de...more
For those of you who were fans of A Confederacy of Dunces, Toole's other posthumously published work is a very different, but equally brilliant, work. Where Confederacy really shines through as a comic masterpiece with larger than life characters, The Neon Bible is a serious story told in some of the most emotional language I've ever seen come across a printed page. Where Confederacy is all about the farcical nature of human being, in The Neon Bible, Toole captures human emotion in an almost pur...more
This is a book everyone should read. Profusely raw in its emotions it will hit you so hard it'll make you fully realize what power of words means. The shift it takes towards the end in particular is one if the most powerful, most compelling things I'd ever read. Humanity depicted so vividly, so brilliantly.
I found the book very easy to read and each page seemed to promise something new and appealing. I intended to specify that it's easy to read because I was thinking of all the vampire novels people are reading because they want something easy, that flows and all that, and of this article about the issue:

This is a novel that you can finish reading pretty quickly. Yet, I suspect that people that go for Dan Brown and co. do it not for the unsophisticated phr...more
Chad Bearden
"The Neon Bible" is a remarkable work in many respects, most notably because it is the early work of an author still in the embryonic stages of becoming a writer, and while it bears almost no tonal or stylistic resemblence to the work that would make Toole famous, it is still a quite solid read.

Whereas "A Confederacy of Dunces" seemed almost hyper-obnoxious with its lead character, Ignatius Reilly, as its figurehead, "The Neon Bible" is a marathon of calm observation. In the former, Toole channe...more
Pat McCay
This was honestly hard for me to read at times. I abandoned it the first time I tried to read it, about 6 years ago. It just oozes sadness and it can get to be a bit unbearable at times, but after I got into the heart of the book this second time I started reading it, I also found it to be really compelling and it really drew me into this world. The young boy telling the story uses perfectly believable language to describe his world in clear detail. I've found that books with a young narrator ca...more
Gregory Baird
Apr 24, 2008 Gregory Baird rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of "A Confederacy of Dunces"
“Thinking people feel sorry for you is something I guess you should appreciate, but I didn’t and never have."

First of all, for anyone to have written a novel like this at age sixteen is nothing short of amazing. Granted, some of the description does not entirely ring true, but for a teenager to possess such acuity when it comes to people and society is remarkable. John Kennedy Toole was such a gifted observer of humanity’s foibles despite his young age that “The Neon Bible” contains truths and...more
Aug 29, 2011 David added it
The neon bible by john Kennedy toole

I would like to comment on the composition o f the book written in the opposite
Of the colour metaphors that are used in the scripts of movies & TV series
It mentioned the book …TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD...
I love the crispness of the characters the clarity of the grammar I could recall my fav parts of the book ( the neon bible) but, then that would be reciteting and not reviewing ..My other favotite was A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN pre 1920 a another story of...more
Apr 16, 2012 Howard added it
I happened on this book in the library recently. The author's story intrigued me, so I checked it out. Toole wrote only one published work and then took his own life at the young age of 31. "The Neon Bible" was published posthumously. Strikingly, it was written when he was only 16. That alone makes it a compelling read. How such a young boy could grasp such depth of feeling!

It's a short read and I was drawn along easily. I won't spoil the ending, but I will say that there is much food for thoug...more
I did not mark this review as one that contains spoilers, but I do talk about some thematic stuff that plays into how this book ends. There are no plot spoilers, though.

Until the end of this book, I was really all right with it. The stream of consciousness narration was effective, and had an impressively conversational tone, and I was really impressed with the way the narrator's anecdotes strung themselves together to form the story as a whole. Even if the individual portions of the story hadn't...more
This book strikes me as a blend of To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Valley P.T.A.

John Kennedy Toole's nearly-forgotten first book, written at age 16 for a literature contest, is not Southern Gothic; there's no magic here, only grim reality.

David is born to a working-class family which includes his parents and his bleached-blonde Aunt Mae. Aunt Mae is an aged flapper who dresses how she pleases and flirts unabashedly... so naturally she's my favorite character. She's David's favorite playmate, a...more
Octavio Villalpando
Dec 31, 2013 Octavio Villalpando rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Todo mundo!
Recommended to Octavio by: Edith Wasco, Amanda Porter
¡Vaya novela tan impresionante! Es difícil pensar que el autor tenía tan solo 16 años cuando la escribió, porque la narración es la de un alma muy vieja, muy vieja y cansada... el mejor reflejo de la historia del autor (tengan la amabilidad de buscar datos de su vida para que lo entiendan). He de leer su otra novela, también de publicación póstuma... es una pena que no haya vivido mucho más, pero supongo que ya había vivido demasiado!
Dec 08, 2008 Bobby rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Canadian indie rock bands
Shelves: 2008
Clean. Concise. Haunting. This book stays with you. A fantastic novel, made all the more so taking into account the age of the writer. Written with more honesty and emotion than many writers twice his age are capable of. Even discounting Conspiracy of Dunces, this book alone makes Toole's eventual suicide all the more tragic. One of the biggest losses of potential in modern American literature.
Nov 07, 2009 Brenda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
I really enjoyed this book and I was sucked into the story, although there wasn't much "action". I found the characters so lovable and engaging. The detail is amazing, Toole really allows the reader to experience the sight, smell and sound of each situation. I'm glad he had time in his short life to write a second book, but wish there were more. What an amazing 16 year old!
Forse è capitato anche ad alcuni di voi. A volte quando ripenso a un libro letto anni fa non so dire molto della trama, dei personaggi, dell’ambientazione; ricordo piuttosto solo delle suggestioni, ormai sepolte sotto strati di nuove storie accumulate nel tempo. E’ stato così con La bibbia al neon, di John Kennedy Toole, romanzo scritto nel 1954 e pubblicato nel 1989. Credo di aver letto questo libro un paio di volte tra i 13 e i 17 anni: ricordo soltanto che mi aveva affascinata e disorientata,...more
Paul Gelsthorpe
Written when John Kennedy Toole was 16 and published after he committed suicide in his early 30's this book is completely different in tone to 'Confederacy of Dunces' which is also a brilliant novel.

'The Neon Bible' is a simple but often incredibly moving tale of the coming of age of a teenage boy in the deep south. This is literary territory well trodden by the likes of Mark Twain, Harper Lee and even JD Salinger, but like 'Catcher in the Rye' there is something haunting and timeless about thi...more
Jul 19, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Written when Toole was only sixteen, and it shows in some minor ways, but still better than what most writers churn out. Maybe the saddest book I've ever read.
Neon Bible follows the story of David, a boy growing up in a small Mississippi town during and after the second world war. It is written from David's perspective beginning when he is only three. The prose is appropriately simple, but manages to convey the author's deep understanding of human relations and human cruelty. Bigotry is probably the central theme, but Toole deals with a variety of complex issues. He does a fascinating job of revealing the paradoxical way in which music is central to b...more
Jun 18, 2009 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who go to KFC only for grilled chicken
Recommended to Chris by: Boo Radley
This is one of those books that starts with a slow boil and conitnues that way for some time. It isn't until the end that you realize that the water has spilled out of the pot. Written fairly simply, the story is written from the point of view of the young narrator. So his observations may be simple, but there's no question when Toole is hinting at grander themes or things that are inappropriate or foreign to an adolescent. Surprisingly, there are even obvious hints to homosexuality in this plot...more
Jul 04, 2010 VJ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: YA, students of film
Recommended to VJ by: Movie: The Neon Bible
Shelves: fiction, film
I looked for this book after seeing the movie with Gena Rowlands portraying Aunt Mae. The movie seemed somehow disorganized or disjointed, but the story was interesting enough for me to follow up with the book.

It is the author's story that most intrigued me. Toole wrote Neon Bible when he was 15 or 16 years old. He was a suicide at 31.

The Neon Bible tells, very straighforwardly and without mawkishness, the story of a boy growing to young adulthood in a small southern town. The family lives well...more
“(…) I knew the way the people in town thought about things. They always had some time left over from their life to bother about other people and what they did. They thought they had to get together to help other people out, like the time they got together about the woman who let a colored man borrow her car and told her the best place for her was up north with all the other nigger lovers, and the time they got the veterans with overseas wives out. If you were different from anybody in town, you...more
John Kennedy Toole, most notable for his authorship of A Confederacy of Dunces, died far too young and tragically. It also is unfortunate that there are only two novels posthumously published by this talented writer. I read A Confederacy of Dunces earlier in the year and my mind was completely blown. It it is one of the best works of fiction I've read in my entire life. The Neon Bible was published nine years later, though it was written at a considerably earlier time in Toole's life: AT THE AGE...more
Ashley Bradley
This is one of the most surprising books I have ever read. Though I was already aware of Toole's genius, because of Confederacy of Dunces, I went into it wondering just how great it could be. He wrote this story when he was 16, and I thought the only reason it was published was because of his Mother's struggle to get it published. They say you aren't fully appreciated until your gone. In the introduction of this book, a family friend of Toole's mother discusses how the two found the story shorty...more
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John Kennedy Toole was an American novelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, best known for his novel A Confederacy of Dunces.

Toole's novels remained unpublished during his lifetime. Some years after his death by suicide, Toole's mother brought the manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces to the attention of the novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981 Toole was posthumously awarde...more
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A Confederacy of Dunces La Conjura de Los Necios Una Banda di Idioti

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“But I knew the way the people in the town thought about things. They always had some time left over from their life to bother about other people and what they did. They thought they had to get together to help other people out, like the time they got together about the woman who let a colored man borrow her car and told her the best place for her was up north with all the other nigger lovers, and the time they got the veterans with overseas wives out. If you were different from anybody in town, you had to get out. That's why everybody was so much alike. The way they talked, what they did, what they liked, what they hated. If somebody got to hate something and he was the right person, everybody had to hate it too, or people began to hate the ones who didn't hate it. They used to tell us in school to think for yourself, but you couldn't do that in the town. You had to think what your father thought all his life, and that was what everybody thought.” 12 likes
“I was getting tired about what the preacher called Christian. Anything he did was Christian, and the people in his church believed it, too. If he 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.” 10 likes
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