10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Overlooked Toole,
This review is from: The Neon Bible (Paperback)
What is most remarkable, to me, about The Neon Bible is that John Kennedy Toole wrote such a well constructed novel at such an early age. Not only is the novel well constructed, but Toole's observations of society are especially profound. Two passages are quite memorable to me, "She didn't know she was the only thing I ever wanted to have that I thought I'd get," and "They always had some time left over from their life to bother about other people..." Toole was obviously born with deep insight and the gift of writing it on paper; it is amazing that he had to struggle so despairingly to get his Confederacy of Dunces published.
I read Confederacy some years ago. I enjoyed it, but I was fully unaware of Toole's back story at the time. After reading The Neon Bible (which I hadn't know about, and discovered quite by accident), I now know that we lost an important literary voice when Toole committed suicide in 1969.
Unlike others, I cannot compare The Neon Bible and To Kill a Mockingbird-To Kill a Mockingbird, for me, is a different book in a completely different voice. The themes of youthful innocence are similar, but where Harper Lee's novel reads with elegance and grace, Toole's is grittier and darker. Regardless, his message is important. Many of us of a certain age remember the South he describes, and as I read I had memories popping out that I, at his age, would never have had the prescience to write about.