Local author explores Catholic conundrum

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, April 30, 2014

By David Vitrano


LAPLACE – It is an unfortunate fact of life that modern-day references to priests and the Catholic Church are almost always tinged with the disgrace of sexual abuse, and although New Orleans has somewhat surprisingly not dominated the headlines in ways that other Catholic strongholds such as Boston have, the subject matter of local writer Gregory Alexander’s new novel, “The Holy Mark,” comes as little surprise.

What is a bit more surprising, however, is the quality of the writing and the tone of the book, which is neither judgmental nor celebratory, but instead matter-of-fact and conversational.

The book is told from the point of view of Father Tony Miggliore, a disgraced Catholic priest whose improprieties have landed him in a small church parish far from his native New Orleans. Wrapping the experiences of Italian-Americans and Catholics into a single narrative provides much for the local reader to identify with, drawing the readers closer to the narrator even as they are repulsed by his actions.

In the novel, which “Publishers Weekly” recently called “disturbingly memorable,” Alexander crafts a true page-turner, full of both intrigue and interesting details that may or may not be familiar to the local reader. Alexander even throws in a few pronunciation guides for those unfamiliar with the region’s idiosyncrasies. Also, the author spent some time teaching in area Catholic schools, grounding the book in a world already familiar to many.

For more or to purchase the book, visit www.theholymark.com.