Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
I knew nothing about this book beyond its title, and this is what drew me to it. Priestdaddy. It is easy to imagine this reading as one of those horror stories of growing up in a home with an oppressive, holier-than-thou man of the cloth. Instead, this book takes you deep into the literary mind of a girl who grew up with a priest for a father, who ran from it early in her 20s, and, for financial reasons, returned to this world as it was a decade later with her husband when he nearly lost his sight. It is the typical story of a child forced to return home to her parents - that is, if your mother is a dutiful wife to a priest, who was never meant to have a wife in the first place but somehow convinced the Catholic church that it could be so.
And this is not a priest as you would think him to be. When he is not wearing his cloth and collar, he is wearing little (boxers) to nothing at all. He is playing riffs on his guitar. He is cleaning his many guns. He is leaving dirty boxers throughout the home as if making a scavenger hunt leading to eternal salvation for his five grown children and his wife.
And the wife is not what you would think her to be. She is quick-libbed. She has encyclopedic knowledge of freak accidents and deaths. She is an obsessive compulsive DIVA (OCD) with a grasp of language that draws the author, Patricia Lockwood, and her husband to the breakfast table with a pad and pencil each day to take notes.
And the author is not what you would immediately expect. She is a spritely shut-in whose playtime includes flirting lewdly with seminarians. She is a short-haired, cute girl whose pornographic tweets provided for her husband's $10,000 eye surgery when donations were sought. She is a writer because she was never a singer. And, surely enough, she is one of the most unique writers of her time.
This book captures a year of her life, documented as if it were fieldwork - an ethnography of her home. And in choosing such a subject, we come to know Priestdaddy and the family he fathered, at home and at church. We also come to know the voices of those in the household with many rooms. Most of all, the voice of his second oldest daughter, who could write about anything and it would enchant.