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Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood


by Patricia Lockwood

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2701560,278 (3.87)22
  1. 00
    The World's Largest Man: A Memoir by Harrison Scott Key (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: The fathers in these two books are very similar, although Lockwood tempers her humor with a lot of honesty and introspection, while Key keeps things humorous (and more shallow).

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Have you ever been so disappointed because of your expectations of a book that you can hardly bear it? The back cover (and to be fair, people I know in person too) promised this was hilarious and wonderful. So I decided to let my other book reading obligations go hang and enjoy this one as an interlude. Except I didn't enjoy it. From the title you'd think this was about Lockwood's Catholic priest father. (Yes, it gets explained and no, it's not like the Borgias and the Medicis who had children willy nilly despite their vow of chastity.) A memoir, sure, but strongly focused on her life growing up in Catholic parsonages with such an unconventional father. Except it's not. Lockwood's family are drawn as caricatures; even more disappointingly, she comes across as loving them despite the fact that she is superior to them, eccentrics that they are. Did she write this during an extended period of time when she was annoyed with them? Perhaps. Because there's some evidence of fondness for her parents but mostly a sense that she is far more evolved than they are. If this isn't the tone she was going for, well, it's what she achieved.

The writing is scattered, disjointed, and episodic rather than hanging together cleanly despite it being about a clearly defined part of her life: adult Lockwood and her husband move back in with her parents for nine months because they are broke. Now that's not entirely true. The memoir is also about her growing up but those portions are framed and wholly contained within the time period her moving back home as an adult. The structure feels as if it isn't a coherent whole. In fact, Lockwood herself writes in the chapter titled Voices, "You know it took me so long to write this piece because I kept trying to make it beautiful and finally I just had to shake myself by the scruff of the neck until a more natural sort of grunting came out. You can't make something sound beautiful. It's either beautiful or it's not," suggesting that this was written in various pieces not necessarily meant to be cobbled together. As for the last bit of that quote, I will concede she's correct, but unfortunately correct. The memoir is so full of metaphors, even occurring within sentences of one another, that the actual story of this time in her life cannot shine through. Is this because she's a poet? No telling. Is this considered poetic? No, it's just overloaded and overdone. If you stripped the text of metaphors, there would be almost nothing left. I failed to see the promised humor in this was well. The pieces that I suspect others think were laugh out loud funny were just wince-inducing and sometimes crossed the line into mean-spirited. I wasn't bothered by the off-color jokes or the bodily humor (although it was rarely even marginally funny) but the superior tone and the mocking wore on me. Over all, I ended up finding myself bored with the book, sad I missed out on the experience so many others seem to have had reading it. ( )
  whitreidtan | Sep 1, 2018 |
“I'm not interested in heaven unless my anger gets to go there too. I'm not interested in a happy eternity unless I get to spend an eternity on anger first. Let me speak for the meek and say that we don't want the earth, if that's where all the bodies are buried. If we are resurrected at the end of the world, I want us to assemble with a military click, I want us to come together as an army against what happened to us here. I want us to bring down the enemy of our suffering once and for all, and I want us to loot the pockets, and I want us to take baths in the blood.”

Whoa! Don't be fooled by the reviews that extol the comedic aspect of this book. Lockwood is one angry writer who crosses the fine line between humor and hysteria with her jumbled and irreverant reflections on her quirky upbringing and Catholicism in general. She states that she was raised in an alternate reality and "her childhood sky was green". One of the pivotal events of her childhood is when her priest father got tired of the grape juice the Lutheran church offered and went for the Catholic wine. To say she felt let down by her father putting his religion before family is putting it mildly. Her rebellion was mostly in her poetry and journal writing until she underwent two major traumas as a teenager that were minimized by her parents, especially her father.. The rage came out in her poetry and, to a lesser extent, when she married a young man she met through the internet.

There are many laugh-out-loud experiences in this book, but knowing her history makes me realize that bawdy humor is how Lockwood copes with pain. It seems she takes pride in being known as "The Smutty Metaphor Queen of Lawrence, KS." I suggest if you want to discover her inner pain just google "Rape Joke" to know how broken she is.

Ordinarily, I would be offended by the nature of some of her remarks; however, her use of language in general is amazing and full of memorable imagery. Poetry is her first love and she explains her process to her mother in these words: "…unfocus your vision like you're trying to see a Magic Eye and loosen up your hearing like you're trying to understand Donald Duck." (133) She has a special bond with her mother who accepts her as she is and is thrilled to be quoted in this book. Even her father gave the blessing so to speak. Which leads me to the conclusion that, although she grew up with a weird dad and a crazy mom and they made some mistakes, there is no mistaking the underlying love in this book. One just has to read deeply and in between the lines of "indelicate" language to find it. ( )
  Donna828 | Jun 13, 2018 |
Interesting, but a bit repetitive after a while. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Adult children returning to live with their parents may be a situation that is becoming more and more common, but few [if any] are likely to find themselves returning to live in a rectory with their mother and priest-father.

The author, a poet, has a way with words in this collection of stories. There are funny passages and the stories may be honest, but they are often crass. In addition, the irreverence throughout this narrative may be offensive to many readers. ( )
  jfe16 | May 13, 2018 |
This is an excellent read - by turns hilarious, nostalgic, sad, profane, and poetic. Patricia Lockwood's writing might not be for everyone but I think she's a genius. This is an honest memoir about growing up as a daughter of a larger than life Catholic priest (ordained via a loophole) and a kind of wacky but loving mother. Some of the best writing describes when she and her husband spent some time living with her parents during a financial crisis. Funny and moving. ( )
  KatyBee | Apr 29, 2018 |
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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.… (more)

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