cover image The Search for Maggie Ward

The Search for Maggie Ward

Andrew M. Greeley. Warner Books, $32 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51476-7

If none of Greeley's 10 successful novels have been turned into a movie, it's surely through no lack of zeal on the author's part. His full-length fictions are closer to screenplays than they are to novels, replete with cardboard characters, cliched dialogue and narrative structures so obvious they scream, ``Film me!'' Greeley's latest is no exception. Jerry Keenan, an Irish-Catholic Chicagoan tortured by memories of his recent WW II Navy experiences, picks up a mysterious woman (her real name, which he does not immediately learn, is Maggie Ward) who promptly initiates him into the joys of sex while trying to convince him to rekindle his lost faith in God. After many scenes of lovemaking and debate, the woman disappears during a Twilight Zone -style mystical experience in the haunted hills of Arizona, and Keenan begins an obsessive search to find her and discover her real identity (which the average reader will surmise by the end of Chapter One). Roman Catholic priest Greeley's basic message--a plea for an increased tolerance of the role sexuality plays in human relationships--is admirable, but it is undercut by his florid descriptions of sexual encounters and his stilted, scholarly efforts to depict late-'40s life: ``The coal strike of 1946 revealed the dark, peevish underside of what my generation now calls the postwar world . '' (Jan . )