Magazine article The Spectator

'Priestdaddy', by Patricia Lockwood - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'Priestdaddy', by Patricia Lockwood - Review

Article excerpt

This is one of the most remarkable, hilarious, jaw-droppingly candid and affecting memoirs I have read for some time -- not since, perhaps, Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius or Rupert Thomson's This Party's Got

to Stop.

Patricia Lockwood is a poet -- dubbed 'The Smutty-Metaphor Queen of Lawrence, Kansas' -- who, after unexpected and costly medical bills, was forced to move, with her husband, back to her parents' home. Her mother is more than mildly neurotic, fretting over things like children jumping out of windows in imitation of Superman. Her father is a bad player of the electric guitar, an enthusiast for guns and hunting, a veteran of nuclear submarines (where he watched The Exorcist endlessly) and a man who sprawls around in his underwear at home. The twist is that he is also a Catholic priest.

Lockwood describes this anomaly as a loophole endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI. The Rev. Lockwood was already a celebrant in the Lutheran church, after his horror-

movie inspired conversion, and then became a Catholic -- a perfectly permissible, if rare, phenomenon. But this sets the scene neatly for the ensuing surrealism, as the opening description of her father demonstrates:

Some men are so larger-than-life that it's impossible to imagine them days-old and

diapered, but I've always found it the easiest thing in the world to see my father as a baby, lolling on his back in the middle of fresh sheets, smoking a fat cigar to congratulate himself on his own birth, stubbing out the cigar -- with great style -- in the face of his first teddy bear.

The enforced closeness to her family allows Lockwood to muse on her religious inheritance. Her husband asks what exactly they believe and she unleashes a riff of epic proportions, beginning: 'First of all blood. BLOOD. Second of all, thorns. Third of all, put dirt on your forehead', and on and on for the rest of the beautifully blasphemous paragraph. …

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