Picks and Pans Review: Virgin with Child

UPDATED 07/20/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/20/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Tom McDonough

McDonough, cinematographer of the Oscar-winning documentary Best Boy, zooms in perceptively in this first novel. Father Jack Sullivan and Sister Marian have more in common than their irreverent sixth-grade students at a Brooklyn parochial school. Sullivan, who likes his whiskey before his transubstantiation, and Marian, a Woolworth shoplifter who reads Burpee seed catalogs with the attention she might reserve for more devout literature, are having an affair. A stuttering student has "a case of nun worship so severe there is nothing funny about it." Maybe not, but there's a lot funny about the idiosyncratic liberals who staff the school. Sister Superior, for example, pumps her fist to make a tattoo of a heart pound convincingly on her forearm. There's poignancy too, etched with tight prose that dips into free association and hints of rebellion and fragility. McDonough, himself a Catholic, offers some sacrilegious yet sensitive revelations about the faith in most eloquent fashion. (Viking, $10.95)

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Chelsea Clinton is Pregnant!
  • Exclusive Royal Tour Diary

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters