THE PRIEST by Thomas M. Disch

THE PRIEST

KIRKUS REVIEW

 From the prolific Disch (The Businessman, 1984, etc.), another severely weird boogie through a strange and specific world, this time the hermetic enclaves of some homosexual Catholic priests. To his credit, Disch resists heaping scorn on the troubled Father Patrick Bryce, an inveterate pedophile who can't stay away from hustlers and altar boys, even if the pursuit of his unholy pleasures has repeatedly landed him in hot water. Blackmailed by his own bishop and by a New Age zealot (and former trick), Father Bryce finds himself forced to preside over the Church-sanctioned establishment of a bunkerlike commune--where young girls considering abortions will be sequestered before they can terminate their pregnancies--while he's forced to receive a massive Satanic tattoo on his chest. Wracked by nightmares about partaking in a medieval Inquisition of French heretics, the wicked priest is nevertheless unprepared to ``transmentate'' into the figure of Bishop Silvanus de Roquefort, who swaps identities with Bryce and proceeds to rape and slaughter with the necrophilic brio that characterized his former Inquisitorial position. Silvanus finds his smorgasbord of debaucheries at the anti-abortion bunker, where the pregnant adolescents are guarded by a militantly dogmatic brother-and-sister team. As Bryce disappears into a newfound enthusiasm for auto-da-fÇ, sharing his transmentation experience with similarly dislocated UFO guru/author A.D. Boscage, Silvanus joins in a race to prevent the anti-abortion shrine's captives from being rescued by, among others, a friendly queer cleric whose murdered friend, Bing Anker, was one of Bryce's molestees. Bryce doesn't last long in the Inquisition: Accused of heresy by a tortured Boscage, the priest is crucified, but not before a plot to counterfeit the Shroud of Turin--using his body in place of Jesus'- -is revealed to him by yet another transmentated contemporary. A rapturously over-the-top yarn that takes a refreshingly bitchy stance. Not something the Pope will be reading before bedtime.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-41880-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995




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