Summary and book reviews of Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Priestdaddy

A Memoir

by Patricia Lockwood

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood X
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
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  • Published:
    May 2017, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts

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Book Summary

From Patricia Lockwood - a writer acclaimed for her wildly original voice - a vivid, heartbreakingly funny memoir about having a married Catholic priest for a father.

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.

Excerpt
Priestdaddy

Somehow or other, the seminarian has heard about milfs and he is haunted by the concept. He fears hordes of milfs are roaming the plains of dating, simultaneously breastfeeding and trying to trick young men into having sex with them. "Are milfs something that's popular in secular culture for guys in their twenties to go after?" he asks.

"Yes," I say gravely, signaling Jason across the room to write that quote down word for word. "Very, very popular. The most popular thing now."

His eyes widen and he crosses his legs, as if to protect his holy jewels from the very notion of a milf. I consider other possible lies to tell him.

In Britain they call them Nummy Mummies, and due to the gender imbalance left over from the Great War, there are two of them for every male.

There's no way of telling whether your own mother is a milf, but if she likes to play bingo, it's almost certain.

The wine of Italy is stomped out by milfs, so when you taste the wine, you are...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The metaphors and connections Lockwood crafts to bind the book thematically are brilliant and subtle. The idea of God as a father figure is prevalent in Western religions, but when one's father is a priest, this idea takes on added significance. Priestdaddy is a serenity prayer, a ballad of acceptance and grace for what cannot be changed. Lockwood's coming of age has its share of dark verses, and her relationship with her father is complicated, largely due to conflicting ideologies. He is a priest, and a political conservative, she is a non-believer and decidedly liberal. But they share an understanding of reverence that makes them kindred souls.   (Reviewed by Lisa Butts).

Full Review Members Only (736 words).

Media Reviews

The New Yorker

[A] vivid, unrelentingly funny memoir… [Lockwood’s] stories . . . are both savage and tender, shot through with surprises and revelations.

The Atlantic

Lockwood’s book is really a rather deliciously old-school, big-R Romantic endeavor: a chronicle of the growth of a mind, the evolution of an imagination.

The New Republic

Irreverently reverent . . . It is easy to be distracted and delighted by [Lockwood’s] strange, phosphorescent prose, but the wisp of an idea brushes against you, and before you know it, there’s a welt.

New York Magazine's The Cut

Wildly entertaining…[Patricia Lockwood's] humor and poetic descriptions are both impressively prolific, every sentence somehow funnier than the one you just read.

The New York Times

There is lovely writing in Priestdaddy about social class. . . a flyway companion to Hillbilly Elegy. . . I suspect it may mean a lot to many people, especially the lapsed Catholics among us. It is, for sure, like no book I have read.

Vanity Fair

Gives ‘confessional memoir’ a new layer of meaning. From its hilariously irreverent first sentence, this daughter’s story of her guitar-jamming, abortion-protesting, God-fearing father will grab you by the clerical collar and won’t let go.

The Washington Post

Remarkable . . . Lockwood proceeds with a near unflagging sense of ironic exuberance and verbal inventiveness . . . this superabundance of comic energy and literary vigor is a measure of Lockwood’s seriousness.

Playboy

A powerful true story from one of America’s most relevant and funniest writers. . . the commandingly written Priestdaddy—about family, religion, identity and trauma—will certainly make you laugh out loud. But it may also move you to tears

Library Journal

The title and topic will pique interest, and Lockwood's humor and humility make this a worthy purchase.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Equipped with acerbic wit and a keen eye for raunchy detail, poet Lockwood (Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals) ventures into nonfiction with this wickedly funny memoir about moving back in with her parents.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A linguistically dexterous, eloquently satisfying narrative debut.

The Huffington Post

Funny and gorgeously written, with scenes so witty and zany they could be lifted from a Broadway show, Priestdaddy will be one of the major prose debuts of the year.

Author Blurb Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy
Beautiful, funny and poignant. I wish I'd written this book.

Author Blurb Joss Whedon
Priestdaddy is a revelatory debut, a meditation on family and art that finds poetry in the unlikeliest things, including poetry. Patricia Lockwood's prose is nothing short of ecstatic; every sentence hums with vibrant, anarchic delight, and her portrait of her epically eccentric family life is funny, warm, and stuffed to bursting with emotional insight. If I could write like this, I would.

Author Blurb Andy Richter
I'm an agnostic, but I truly believe that we are all blessed by Patricia Lockwood's decision to lend her amazing facility for language to prose with Priestdaddy. It's a hilarious book full of heavy truths; a wonderful study of one of life's most precious resources - beautiful weirdos.

Author Blurb Mary Karr, author of The Liars' Club
Destined to be a classic...this year's must-read memoir.

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Beyond the Book

Marriage in the Catholic Clergy

While Catholic priests are not permitted to be married, exceptions are made for those who convert after marriage, as was the case with Lockwood's father. This loophole was established in 1980 by Pope John Paul II, and as a result there are roughly 120 married Catholic priests in the United States. Celibacy in the Church is a longstanding tradition with both historical and Biblical roots, but many would like to see the strictures relaxed. In March 2017, Pope Francis made comments to a German newspaper that opened a door for the possibility of further exceptions to the rule.

Rosary, Bible and crucifix The scriptural origins of celibacy largely involve emulating Jesus Christ who, according to biblical doctrine, was unmarried. In Matthew 22:30, Jesus says, "'At the...

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