Photo: Marshall Troy

3 of 16
352 pages; Riverhead Books
Greg Lockwood is not like other Catholic priests. For starters, he found religion after watching The Exorcist 72 times aboard a navy submarine—or, as his daughter, Patricia Lockwood, puts it in her irreverent memoir, Priestdaddy, "The bejesus flew into my father like a dart into a bullseye." Also, he shreds electric guitar in his underwear, refers to nuns and Democrats as "feminazis," and through an obscure Vatican loophole is married with five children. 

Lockwood achieved pop-literary fame with her 2013 viral hit "Rape Joke," a free-verse poem that builds from one-liners about goatees and wine coolers into righteous anger. Now, with her prose debut, she accomplishes a similar miracle of incongruity on a larger canvas, painting a portrait of her dad in all his lovable machismo, from his penchant for Tom Clancy and pork rinds to his sink-or-swim parenting practices, while also confronting the complex emotional terrain of living under a patriarch's rule.

The book is loosely built around the turbulent eight months during which a broke Lockwood and her husband slunk back to her parents' Kansas City rectory, where she slowly unpacks her emotional baggage. The highs and lows of that time are mirrored in the memoir's structure: Lockwood on one page might recollect a slapstick family hunting trip or a euphoric dive, and on the next recall her teenage suicide attempt or her father making the sign of the cross over her when she told him she'd been assaulted.

As a kid, Lockwood hated being used in her father's sermons, turned into "a stick figure" moving "automatically toward a punishing moral." With this ferocious, bodacious memoir, Lockwood finally mounts her own pulpit, reclaiming a story that all along was hers alone to tell. 
— Natalie Beach