The Holy Mark is a dramatic monologue told from the point of view of a psychologically disturbed Catholic priest who continually rationalizes and justifies his relationships with teenaged boys. It combines the elements of a psychological case study and dysfunctional New Orleans Italian family saga.
The story begins with the narrator "in exile" in a tiny North Louisiana parish where he has been reassigned by the Church hierarchy in New Orleans, his city of birth, and where he suffers the humiliation of celebrating mass in a leaky trailer. About to mark his Silver Jubilee as a priest, he reflects on his life, including his childhood and twenty-five years in the Church. That reflection, covering the years 1970-1995, is the meat of the novel.
The Holy Mark is the story of one reluctant priest caught between the cynicism of his own Southern upbringing and the political machinations of the Roman Catholic Church.
In this disturbingly memorable novel about a wayward priest set in late 20th-century New Orleans, Alexander explores familial revenge, rails against the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Church, and creates a likable narrator guilty of heinous acts. Father Tony endears himself to readers with charm and candor from the opening pages. He is born with a red birthmark on his head, which his grandmother claims is a sign that he is to become a priesta prophecy he fulfills, eventually finding his calling working with disadvantaged young boys. Though he fancies himself a modern-day Saint John Bosco, Father Tony's relationship with some boys becomes sexual, and he endeavors to outwit his family and the Church to save himself. Alexander ably captures the essence of parochial education in the 1970s and '80s, having himself taught in Catholic schools. His depictions of the Church's inner workingsfrom hierarchical power struggles to young seminarians' sexual improprietiesmay alarm some readers, but most shocking is Father Tony's own admission that his behavior in the company of boys is not a mortal sin but rather "an opportunity to walk in Christ's footsteps." The author's superb use of foreshadowing keeps readers engaged throughout, even as they cringe at Father Tony's actions.
-Publishers Weekly Select
|Publisher:||Mill City Press, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Samantha Rivera for Readers' Favorite Joe has always lived a somewhat interesting life. From the moment of his birth, his grandmother has been convinced that there is something special about him. In fact, she attempted to convince everyone she met of his importance. But there are far more important things hidden in the shadows of Joe’s family than his possible importance and his future as a priest. There is far more hiding inside Joe as well. The Holy Mark by Gregory Alexander is a story of more than just an Italian family making it big in America and the lives of their descendants. There is far more to Joe’s story than that. The Holy Mark is a story of a young man growing older. A man who is celebrating his Jubilee, 25 years as a priest. A time that is marked with celebrations but not for Joe. Joe has secrets in his past, secrets that some people are desperate to unearth and those secrets have cost him his celebration. They have cost him everything he may have ever cared about and they still aren’t done. For those reading this book, Joe is an interesting character, someone that you find yourself uncertain about. Anyone can see a little of themselves in Joe, but they can also see things they wouldn’t ever want to see in themselves. The love-hate relationship you develop with Joe isn’t something that fades from your mind quickly. It’s something that stays with you for quite a while to come because Joe is different from anyone you’ve ever met.