THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE by William Michaels

THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An insipid take on the priest-struggling-against-lust standard, padded with hyperventilating subplots. Handsome Alex Stribling became a priest as a ""testimonial"" to his dead mother. Assigned to a parish in his hometown of Altoona, Pa., he mixes it up with the locals: the moneyed Kinsella family, captained by overbearing Alice, a beautiful control freak who's obsessed with priests; and the Albrechts, who have attractive teen-age twins, Frank and Nikki. Of course, everyone has a scandalous secret. Father Alex's brother Eddie once got a girl pregnant and fled town after she died from a botched abortion. Alice was an illegitimate child whose mother committed suicide. Frank and Nikki spent time kissing by the riverside, leaving their unattended retarded sister to drown. As everyone flounders around under their respective burdens, Alice makes a play for Alex's allegiance by stripping in the confession booth. Meanwhile, innocent Nikki generates more fireworks with her significantly sweeter crush on the priest. Alex does a tour as a chaplain in Vietnam (it's 1967), unaware that a single night spent with Nikki has left her pregnant. There's too much going on for things to build to a dramatic climax: instead, a hideous train wreck, a murder, and Alex's endless vacillations about whether or not to abandon his calling bring things to a breathless finish. Michaels (coauthor of The Night They Stole Manhattan, 1980) substitutes a litany of overblown disasters for plotting. While the consequence is an overlong march to nowhere, there's rarely a dull moment along the way.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's