Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

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A book titled Priestdaddy (May 2017) is as raunchy and filled with crucifixes as one might assume. When Patricia Lockwood and her husband are forced to move into her parents’ rectory after having to face overwhelming medical costs, memories of her unusual childhood resurface. In this memoir, Lockwood is reemerged into a past she traded in long ago for her new life in Savannah, Georgia.

You can tell Lockwood is a poet from the get go. Her playfulness with language and imagery jumps out of her prose. Her language is clever. And I mean the kind of clever where at least once a page you smirk and think to yourself, “that was a good one.”

Priestdaddy faces themes of identity, religious stereotypes, family, tradition and how constricting some of these things can be.  The wildest character, and the star of this book, is Lockwood’s priest father whom converted to Catholicism after one too many viewings of The Exorcist during his time living in a submarine during the Cold War. He is just as likely to be found nearly naked, playing electric guitar, drinking Bailey’s, and slinging guns as he is to be doing the Lord’s work. He is a character who writes himself into the page, but Lockwood does not rely as heavily on his quirks as you would expect. She is a sparkling personality all her own. While reading this book, her neatly-wrapped naughtiness becomes a character within itself. The word “unique” doesn’t do justice in describing her voice; it is something you’ll have to experience for yourself. Her work is a continuation of any remaining teenage rebellion for her catholic-constrained past.

While this book glitters with wit, Lockwood also lets us in on the darkness behind her charm, and reveals some of her most haunting memories. Lockwood is able to look back on suicide attempts, assault, and shady happenings within the church with an unforgiving sense of humor. It is the story of a woman who became her own person despite her upbringing, and it unlike most other coming-of-age stories you will likely encounter.

Priestdaddy’s focus does tends to wander toward end of the memoir, and I occasionally became unsure of the narrative direction. This is partially due to Lockwood’s self-indulgence in poetic metaphors, which become muddled after overuse. This being said, I highly recommend giving this memoir a read. Priestdaddy will be a pleasure for anyone raised by people of faith, or by any kind of delightful weirdos. But, really, it is delightful for any who have a decent sense of humor.

Patricia Lockwood is also the author of two poetry collections: Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals and Balloon Pop Outlaw Black

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