Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
First Line: At nineteen, I ought to have been in college with the rest of my high school class, gaining fifteen pounds of knowledge and bursting the sweatpants of my ignorance.
Summary: Lockwood grew up in a big family in the Midwest. Her father is a Catholic priest, a rarity for a married man with children. Both of Lockwood’s parents have their quirks and we get to know them well. Her father is loud and unfiltered, her mother obsessed with looking up tragic events and warning her children of them, both unquestionably loving despite their occasional parenting missteps. Lockwood marries young, having met her future husband on the internet and bonding over a love of poetry. They move away together, but financial strain pushes them back into the rectory with Lockwood’s parents. Eventually, Lockwood becomes famous for a poem she publishes online and receives a book deal. Along the way, Lockwood generously shares many hilarious stories of her childhood, her siblings, and her parents. Being life, there are of course some darker moments as well.
My Thoughts: I now search for anything Patricia Lockwood has written for the London Review of Books. She is incredibly talented and inventive. She’s also hilarious. For a while, she lived in Lawrence not far from where I was living at the time. I remember when her poem went viral and she was something of a local celebrity. People were very excited, including my step-dad who wanted every detail when I spotted her at a bar downtown. She even describes this period in the book, calling Lawrence a town of “aspiring radicals.” I still can’t decide if it’s a compliment or an insult.
Reading Lockwood is pure delight. I love the way she plays with language and I can tell she does too. I inhaled this book.
Her debut novel No One is Talking About This, published in 2021, has received all kinds of rave reviews and accolades, including being shortlisted for the Booker Prize and landing on the New York Times’ 10 best books of 2021 list. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s definitely on my reading list.