The chronology of water

by Cynthia Newberry Martin on June 11, 2011

The Chronology of Water< /em> by Lidia Yuknavitch. Wow. Some book. One reviewer admits to considering throwing it across the room.

It’s a memoir, and the writing is uneven. But that fits the life it mirrors. Like the story out of which it grew, it’s

About fathers and swimming and fucking and dead babies and drowning. Written entirely in random fragments–how I understood my entire life. In the language–image and fragments and non-linear lyric passages–that seemed most precise.

A striking chapter tells the story of a hot pink Schwinn bike “with a banana seat and streamers coming out of the handlebars.” Her father brought it home to cheer her up after her sister left. She was ten and thought “it was perhaps the most beautiful thing I had ever seen…”

But she didn’t know how to ride a bike.

So when I came outside to touch the hot pink ride, beautiful as she was, all I felt was terror.

Besides being a hell of a story, this is a living, breathing object lesson. How a beautiful pink bike can also be an object of terror. How in a fictional world a bicycle could be beautiful to one character and terrifying to another.

She writes: “In water, like in books–you can leave your life.”

About the breakup of her second marriage:

I would have done anything for him. A love unto death. And…

Goddamn it.

I’m already lying. I’m making it all sound literary.

It was messier than that. A lot.

At the end of the book is an interview. Yuknavitch writes:

I do know that when I’m inside writing I don’t want to be anywhere else. It’s like being inside a song or a painting.

The Chronology of Water.

Cross-posted at Catching Days

harriett June 15, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I’m actually reading this memoir right now: striking, disturbing, but always memorable.

cynthia newberry martin June 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm

I agree, Harriett. How did you hear about it? By the way, if you’re interested in more discussion, thelitpub.com is reading it a chapter a day, every Monday through Thursday. Thanks for leaving a comment!

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