Patricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood is a contributing editor at the LRB. Her novel No One Is Talking About This was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She lives in Savannah, Georgia.

Diary: Putting on Kafka’s Tux

Patricia Lockwood, 24 March 2022

Kafka​ had consumption, which everyone else also had at that time: look at them up on the tops of mountains, men coughing spots in love with women coughing spots, so that you could draw lines between them until the whole world was filled in. It was a comfort to read him in a year when everyone again had the same disease. More specifically her, for in that moment she was everyone. She...

Strap on an ox-head: Christ comes to Stockholm

Patricia Lockwood, 6 January 2022

Imight have​ met him once. In September 2015 I flew to Norway for a literary festival. Knausgaard was the headliner, but he cancelled at the last minute and was replaced by an Elvis impersonator. Instead of pictures of Karl Ove smoking the cigarette of the camera down to its smouldering butt-end, the newspaper coverage of the event included photographs of a pastorally beefy Elvis in a white...

Pull off my head: What a Bear Wants

Patricia Lockwood, 12 August 2021

Here is what it is: no force on earth will keep a writer’s preoccupations out of their fiction. You are not necessarily looking for them, but you find them every time. There you are in your octagon, holding a glass of whisky in one hand and working one foot into the fur of a bear, when the fire lights up the primal line. That is what I am waiting for, I am waiting to see scarves on page ten of one book and page 56 of another and then one line in the letters and then there is Marian Engel, the person, not an apparition but a body of desire, playing dressing-up in front of the old pier glass mirror. Continuing to want what she always wanted: for life to make art. ‘A world. I wanted a world; yes, that was it, and I wanted a world I could legislate, make my own; not own, not totally control, no, not that: ah, but that was it: have an importance in.’ She stands in the mirror and turns; someone is watching over her shoulder.

What passes for the next thousand pages, between these harmless pastel covers? Life, all of it. Say any character’s name to me – say Pinuccia, and I will flash on her at the beach, pregnant, in love with a boy who isn’t the father, faced with the intolerable prospect of the future she has chosen, drinking coconut so her child will not be born craving it. Donato? I know where all his freckles are. Nadia? Allow me to direct you to the line in my notebook that reads: ‘I hate Nadia beyond all reason.’ In Frantumaglia, Ferrante writes: ‘The as yet unsurpassed force of literature lies in its capacity to construct vibrating bodies from whose veins anyone can drink.’ For a thousand pages we drink, body after body after body, husbands and daughters and teachers and friends, we drink directly from the neck of Naples. And we do it through the character of the writer, Elena Greco (Lenù), who is driven to master fiction as an organising force, a way of ‘finally putting everything back on its feet in the proper way’.

Diary: America is a baby

Patricia Lockwood, 3 December 2020

On Election Day,​ as soon as the polls closed, I had to watch the three-hour-long 1972 movie musical 1776. You almost certainly haven’t seen it, so I’ll summarise it for you. The year is – well, you know that part – and the flies of patriotism are buzzing in the room in colonial Philadelphia where the Second Continental Congress is refusing to debate a proposal for...

Eels on Cocaine

Emily Witt, 22 April 2021

Patricia Lockwood is a generous writer. She seems incapable of resentment and has a Rabelaisian appreciation for the bawdy. She can describe America’s corporate restaurant chains and their blooming onions...

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For all its dirty jokes and baby talk, Priestdaddy is an angry book, and Patricia Lockwood’s use of childhood idiom is a way of exposing the irrationality of institutional authority.

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