Gene Lyons
September 10, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

No Other Life

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Brian Moore
genre
Fiction

We gave it a C

At Brian Moore’s best (Lies of Silence), his moral intensity and taut, unadorned style make for compelling reading. But when the prolific Irish-born author allows theological preoccupations to overwhelm his plot and characters, the result resembles less a novel than a case study concocted out of the Baltimore Catechism. So it is with No Other Life, a fictional meditation clearly (and loosely) based upon the career of Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Roman Catholic priest recently restored to the presidency of Haiti after prolonged negotiations with the army. Filtered through the consciousness of a white, French-Canadian priest who taught Father Jean-Paul Cantave (Aristide) as a boy, the tale retains an odor of scholasticism throughout. Ditto for the narrator’s own crisis of faith and his struggles with sexual temptation — themes handled far more persuasively by Graham Greene, among others. Ambitious, but unconvincing. C

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