July Speaker: Gregory Alexander

Front Cover finalPlease join SOLA for the July meeting on the 18th beginning at 10AM at the east bank branch of the Jefferson Parish Library in Metairie. Our featured speaker is Gregory Alexander, author of The Holy Mark. Hear him discuss “The Holy Mark: The Writing of a New Orleans Catholic Novel.”

A Sinfully Southern Page Turner

“Disturbingly memorable,” is how Publishers Weekly describes Gregory Alexander’s unique debut novel, The Holy Mark. In the book, a disgraced and exiled Catholic priest from a powerful New Orleans family ponders his future and reflects on his twenty-five years in the priesthood.

Father Tony probably should have never been a priest. But there were none in the family, much to the shame of his immigrant Italian grandmother. So at his birth, when the old woman beheld a peculiar mark on his head and declared it to be a sign from God—a “holy mark”—his destiny was set.

Those marked by God, though, are often marked by men as well: Father Tony’s jealous uncle will never forgive him for finding favor with the family matriarch. And with his ties to the city’s Catholic hierarchy, he’ll destroy his nephew if it takes the rest of his life. Meanwhile Father Tony is determined to outwit his uncle and the Church, even if he has to conceal his identity and prowl the streets of New Orleans by night to do it.

Alexander, a lifelong Louisiana resident, has degrees from UNO in Psychology and American Literature, both of which disciplines are prominently displayed in his book. The Holy Mark should appeal to anyone with an interest in Southern fiction, the clergy abuse scandals, Italian-American family dynamics, or just a good old-fashioned revenge story.

The book challenges us to consider how people we dismiss as evil see themselves. By considering one such person’s childhood and development, the overpowering influence of his extended Italian-American family, and the culture of Catholic New Orleans at mid-century, the book presents a psychologically compelling glimpse into the aberrant mind, showing readers that even those we condemn as unworthy of a voice may sometimes have a story worth telling.

The book is available on line at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and can be ordered at any bookstore. To learn more about Alexander and the novel, visit Theholymark.com.