The Neon Bible doesn't come off, though on the surface it should. John Kennedy Toole's novel shares so many of Davies's own preoccupations - impacted family life etc - that it's shocking to observe how ill-matched the duo are. Kennedy, for instance, is rather cool and calculated; the central character, David, is a literary creation in the worst, self- infatuated sense. Davies, on the other hand, never seems to work to a plan: he seems to - how can this be best put? - discover his material. And, as Hallelujah Now and Still Lives prove, Davies can present his child self without sentimentality, no matter what the hardships and horrors endured. Imagination - the movies - is his great escape.
Which is why, even when Bible bashes itself, you don't mind. Yes, it's a collision, and the least of Davies's works to date, but despite its stylistic repetitions and forced auteur interjections, it's still more absorbing and more compelling than anything else around. Davies's under- par is better than most people's on-form - a message worth flashing in neon.