John Kennedy Toole

The Neon Bible

Fiction - Literary

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John Kennedy Toole, who won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his bestselling 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's suicide at thirty-one, that this amazingly accomplished and evocative novel was freed for publication.

The Neon Bible opens with the narrator, a young man named David, on a train, leaving the small Southern town he's grown up in for the first time. What unspools is the tender and tragic coming-of-age story of a lonely child, a story that revolves around David's unorthodox friendship with his great-aunt Mae--a former stage performer who is fiercely at odds with the conservative townspeople--and the everyday toll of living in an environment of religious fanaticism.