Father Greg Lockwood is a Catholic priest with very conservative views. He plays guitar too loudly (and badly), makes thunderous pronouncements, lounges in boxers--and has a wife and five children (he was originally a Lutheran priest and then became a Catholic priest, and kept his wife and family through Vatican dispensation). Father Greg is Patricia Lockwood's Priestdaddy, an often self-centered patriarch whose life, if his wife is away, descends into willful chaos. Lockwood (Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals) exploits this perfect set-up for absurdity with verve, while exploring life's conundrums: "Faith and my father taught me the same lesson: to live in the mystery, even to love it." A medical crisis causes Lockwood and her husband, Jason, to move into her parents' rectory for a while, providing a rich lode for mining the surrealism of her childhood and adulthood.

As a teenager, Lockwood had "grown timid in the face of my father's thunder." But she found herself in writing; she became a poet whose command of both lyricism and zaniness are beguiling: "the citric humor of high school girls--which is eternal, but which tasted new to us at the time. My friends and I were four full oranges of it, with a resilient shine on our leaves." At a Carmelite convent, "the darkness smelled of curled leaf tips and keys." In her mother's closet she can "still find hangers with pro-life messages printed on them. The Midwest, contrary to popular opinion, does not lack a sense of irony."

Priestdaddy is flamboyant, like Father Greg. At the same time, the graces of humor and familial love shine through. Patricia Lockwood writes with radiance and audacity: "On the page I am strong, because that is where I put my strength." --Marilyn Dahl

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