Book Review / The Chronology of Water: A Memoir
Lidia Yuknavitch

“Write like a terrorist just busted in and threatened to kill you all—like you have a semi-automatic machine gun at your skull,” acclaimed author Ken Kesey told Lidia Yuknavitch one day during a writing workshop. Luckily for us, she follows his advice, crowding The Chronology of Water with intimate confessions of rage and longing. She takes us on a journey through addiction, sexual exploration and, perhaps most intriguing of all, through creation: of literature, of memories, and of life. Her sharp prose—witty, jarring, worthy of dog-earing—alternates between gleeful postmodern exercise and wrenching elegy. So honest and unapologetic is her writing that you can practically hear her sigh in catharsis as you turn the pages. Yuknavitch leaves nothing to the imagination in describing the many lives she’s lived as an abused daughter, neglected sister, alcoholic divorcĂ©e, mother of a stillborn baby, teacher, writer, lover of women, lover of men, and finally, always, a swimmer. “In water, like in books—you can leave your life,” she writes. As a champion swimmer in her oppressive childhood, she was drawn to the water as a way of escaping. As a recreational swimmer in her booze-soaked young adulthood, she was drawn to the water as a way of rediscovering herself. And now? Now, she tells us, “I am learning to live on land.”

Labell, Molly. "The Chronology of Water: A Memoir." BUST Magazine June 2011