“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.”
There is SEX
in this book. There is ADULTERY
in this book. There is PEEPING
in this book. OMG there is also GOLF
in this book which with its phallic clubs, balls, and holes is also (baffling) about SEX
We meet Reverend Thomas Marshfield in the pages of his confessional writings from his incarceration in a country club for fallen priests and ministers where he is being punish by playing GOLF and POKE-HER with his fellow detainees. Poor guy, it is almost on par with Guantanamo Bay.
Reverend (Doubting) Thomas' troubles all begin with a crises of faith wrapped around one whopper of a mid-life crises. He
leaps into bed with the organist at his church. The freshly divorced and emotional available, lush of hip and breast, Alicia. She proves to be the beginning and end of his attempt to break free of the shackles of his life and marriage.
Though his marriage to Jane has turned into a dusty caricature of the vibrant relationship it used to be Thomas is unwilling to be the one to destroy the ties of marriage, even though he is quite willing to tromp all over the vows of marriage. His inability to break away from Jane leads the lush Alicia into the arms of Ned
Bork, assistant minister. This leads to peeping (Tom) as Thomas tries to spy on the couple fueling his own jealousy and ultimately leading to the firing of Alicia from her job at the church. The wrath of a scorned woman will be visited upon the balding pate of our poor Thomas.
Frankie Harlow, staunch believer, but unhappy wife, is the next conquest for the reverend. He counsels her on her marriage, but the whole time is plotting her seduction. As it happens she is not that difficult of a quarry, and soon Thomas finds himself gazing upon the beautiful body of his desire and unable to rise to the occasion
. Her belief, her faith, are stumbling blocks that will not allow him to consummate their unholy union. In desperation he tries to get her to renounce her faith hoping that will put the lead back in the pencil, but though she is willing to roger Thomas until the second coming, she cannot renounce her faith.
Thomas' affairs with Alicia and Frankie do not go unnoticed. He is overwhelmed with requests for appointments for counseling with his female flock. He becomes the Casanova of the collar. As he relays to us: "There is a grandeur of dizzying altitude in the act of placing a communion wafer between the parted lips of a mouth that, earlier in the very week of which this was the Sabbath day, had received one's throbbingly ejaculated seed."Body of Christ?
All goes well until the now unemployed Alicia decides to go to one of the city elders, the banker Harlow, also the husband of the faith hampered Frankie, and reveals all. The shit storm that follows lands Thomas in the country club, writing his memoirs as part of his therapy and sneaking love notes within the text of those same memoirs to his jailer the previously pious Ms. Prynne.
I mentioned at the beginning of this review that GOLF has sexual overtones at least for our libidinous Thomas. He is golfing with his priestly and equally deviant companions. "Jamie Ray swings miserably but putts like an angel; I sometimes wonder if buggery hasn't made the hole look relatively huge to him. Whereas us poor c**t men keep sliding off the side, hunched over fearful as fetuses who suddenly realize they can never push their craniums through a three-and-a-half inch pelvic opening."What a lecher you are Mr. Updike.
The New England writers John Updike and John Cheever are always a source of pleasure to me. They are talented, well educated writers, often obsessed with the most basic urges of the human condition and yet somehow putting a veneer of class on those same baser instincts that plague,uplift, and consume us all.