VESTMENTS by Alfred Alcorn


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Another heavy-handed offering from the author of The Pull of the Earth (1985). Sebastian Taggart lives (but doesn't enjoy) the good life with Clara (a woman he doesn't care about), writes TV editorials he doesn't believe in, and neglects Aunt Esther, who raised him. Auntie always wanted him to be a priest, and when she lies dying in a Catholic nursing-home, Sebastian considers visiting her wearing a fake clerical collar to please her and ensure he'll inherit. Moral qualms keep him from carrying out the deception, but he finds he enjoys appearing in public places dressed as a priest. After Auntie's death, tired of fighting with Clara (who wants a commitment) and impressed by the selfless devotion of the nursing-home nuns, he toys with the idea of actually entering the priesthood. The catch is, Sebastian doesn't believe in God. Still, he reads theology, fights his sexual impulses, explains to his friends, and hounds God to grant him belief. This could be interesting: modern man attracted to the trappings rather than the essence of religion, needing redemption not so much from sin as from shallowness. But Sebastian is as distasteful in his spiritual despair as in his yuppie ennui, petulantly insistent that the world and/or God owes him more: while the attempts at humor (e.g., he throws up all over his boss's new Mercedes) fall flat. Overall, Sebastian's musings on politics, relationships, and religion are high-toned in style, banal in content--as is this failed moral tale.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1988
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin