Book Review – The Holy Mark by Gregory Alexander

The Holy Mark

Gregory Alexander
File Size: 457 KB
Print Length: 247 pages
Publisher: Publish Green (January 19, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

 The path from the beginning of the story when Joe Miggliore, later to become Father Tony, is born and his immigrant Italian grandmother sees a odd mark on his head and declares it to be a sign from God—a “segno sacro”, to the ultimate downfall of Father Tony doesn’t always go in a straight line. This I found to be a bit of a problem. When the author stopped and took the reader off on a tangent, I wanted him to stay a bit more on track. It seemed to take too long to get from that beginning to the heart of the story.

However, that is the only quibble I have with The Holy Mark. Despite those tangents, I kept getting pulled back into the story as Father Tony relates it on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as a priest.

The Miggliore family has money, lots of money due to their ties to the New Orleans mob and the clever way Father Tony’s grandfather stashed the family fortunes. Unfortunately, as is so common in families with lots of money, greed and avarice raise their ugly heads and create conflict. Tony’s uncle vows to destroy his nephew, and the uncle has enough connections to the hierarchy of the church in New Orleans to make good on that vow.

In some ways this is a coming-of-age story as we follow Joe from his childhood and his first introduction to sexual acts between young boys to his eventual fall as a priest. This happens when he is in charge of a home for boys, and thankfully, nothing is written in graphic scenes.

As a Catholic who was very aware of, and incensed by, the sex scandals in the Roman Catholic Church over the past thirty years, I was pleased on one hand that Father Tony had to pay a price for what he had done. But I also found it very hard to dislike him. I think that was in part because of the calm narrative voice the author used to tell the story and the careful wording of sections that people would find distasteful. It wasn’t right what Father Tony did, but the “why” was carefully laid out in this well-written book. It is also important to note that the author does not defend the priest, he simply presents a story. Granted, a difficult story to read at times, but maybe one that should be read.

About the Author:
Greg Alexander grew up in New Orleans, and after graduating from a Catholic high school for boys, he went on to the University of New Orleans where he earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Masters in English with a concentration on American Literature. He taught for twelve years, predominantly at Cabrini and Jesuit, two prominent New Orleans Catholic high schools.

While teaching, Greg began writing short fiction and submitting his stories to literary magazines across the country. After 168 rejections (“Yes, I counted them,” Greg laughs today), his first acceptance came for “The First Lady Barber in New Orleans,” a fine sketch of Greg’s grandmother Josephine, who was actually the second lady barber in the city.  (Family lore claims that her cousin was the first!)  The story appeared in the fall 1995 issue of ELM (Eureka Literary Magazine), Ronald Reagan’s alma mater in Illinois.

More at his Website * Connect on Facebook

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