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Priestdaddy: A Memoir
by Patricia Lockwood
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There is beautiful writing in this book, and moving thoughts and words. I didn't find much humor in it. I know that the author needs to distance herself to survive; I know that people are complicated and multi-faceted. I felt I had to keep a distance as well. That's easier with an e-book I think. I don't know that I would recommend this book to anyone.
This was a pleasant read, a lyrical memoir suffused with poetic language. It probably would seem much funnier to readers who were raised Catholic.
When a poet tackles nonfiction, the results aren’t necessarily guaranteed. Fortunately for Patricia Lockwood, not only does her poetic wordsmith skills come in handy, but the topic of her book, Priestdaddy, is authentically quirky, original and flat out hilarious. When she and her husband move in with her parents because of a medical emergency, her Catholic priest father and mother provide plenty of fodder to fill this book with hilarity and a sideway look at her childhood religion. If you’re wondering how a Catholic priest has a wife AND children, read this book, because like all things in her life, there’s a crazy story to explain it. Lots of chuckles in this one!
I must say when I first started this I absolutely hated it. I didn't think it was funny that her priest father sat around in his underwear and it went downhill from there. Somewhere along the way, I got hooked and she stopped telling us about her father and his underwear. This is a true story and the scene at the abortion clinic is chilling, as is her encounter with rape and its subsequent poem, as is her portrait of the Midwest she inhabits. She is a published poet and it shows in her delight in language. If you give it a try, have some patience. It is not an easy book and humor is very difficult. Several people in my book club thought it was hilarious. Even for the parts I liked, I didn't really find much humor. Not to my taste anyway. What I did find was some wonderful language and haunting tales.
Starts brilliantly but loses its way towards the end. Suffers from a problem I have with many memoirs - that is, there's no unifying theme or story here. Lockwood has had the good fortune to have amazing characters as her family, and she's also an excellent writer, but for all the praise this left me disappointed.
Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met, a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates "like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972." His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church's country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents' rectory, their two worlds collide. In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence, from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group, with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents' household after a decade of living on their own. Lockwood details her education of a seminarian who is also living at the rectory, tries to explain Catholicism to her husband, who is mystified by its bloodthirstiness and arcane laws, and encounters a mysterious substance on a hotel bed with her mother. Lockwood pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood. Priestdaddy is an entertaining, unforgettable portrait of a deeply odd religious upbringing, and how one balances a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)811.6 — Literature English (North America) American poetry 21st Century
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