For the boys in Hail Mary Corner by Brian Payton (Beach Holme), there are few opportunities to take physical risks. They live at the Seminary of St. John the Divine, a boarding school for adolescent boys that is run by black-hooded Benedictine monks, so they push their boundaries by engaging in hazing rituals that involve Romans and Christians (the new boys are the Christians), humiliating each other, and breaking into the monks’ private papers and using the information there to gain power over the monks. The story is told by sixteen-year-old Bill, who prays each night for the strength to withstand the urge to masturbate yet shags a local girl in the equipment room; the book is filled with contradictions like these as the boys try, and usually fail, to fit their lives into the moulds provided by Catholic dogma. The writing is tight and well paced, though a few times the characters seem to get set up for something and then nothing happens. Overall it’s a funny and absorbing read, with the added twist that it takes place on Vancouver Island, an unlikely place for a bunch of Benedictine monks to cloister themselves and their charges.