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The Chronology of Water

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  9,344 ratings  ·  1,371 reviews
This is not your mother’s memoir. In The Chronology of Water, Lidia Yuknavitch expertly moves the reader through issues of gender, sexuality, violence, and the family from the point of view of a lifelong swimmer turned artist. In writing that explores the nature of memoir itself, her story traces the effect of extreme grief on a young woman’s developing sexuality that some ...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Hawthorne Books (first published April 1st 2011)
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Misty Thomas This is an amazing book. It is a woman's journey through abuse, addiction, and grief. Through art, writing, and claiming her own autonomy she becomes …moreThis is an amazing book. It is a woman's journey through abuse, addiction, and grief. Through art, writing, and claiming her own autonomy she becomes a person who is capable of loving and giving again. She becomes a person who helps others find their way through grief and pain. She inspires people through writing, teaching, mothering. Unlike the comment above mine, I do not know one person that I CAN NOT recommend this too. Any one with a pulse, who has struggled in their lives can benefit from Lidia's memoir. (less)

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Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, e-pube, favourites
I am sitting here in a dazed stupor, sleep-deprived and my head buzzing with the tinnitus that comes with insomnia. I couldn't put this fucking book down. I don't know if I have connected with a book like I did this one since the days when I discovered Winterson. I devoured this book. I'm still not full, I want more. I read it in 50 page chunks without noticing the passing of time. 1am, 3am. It was less than ten degrees and yet I couldn't move to fetch another blanket. I paused at 5.30 this morn ...more
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The Chronology of Water is stunning. I read it in three hours, ignoring everything. It is a book that literally cannot be put down. I can't think straight to talk about it the book is so good so just read it already. ...more
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Call me "old-fashioned", "conservative", whatever, but this was a very irritating book. Yes, I'm sure some of what she wrote was *meant* to be vexing and maybe even irritating, but it was just too much for me.

For one thing, I don't like the whole psychological attitude of "I had a rough childhood and that was my excuse for ruining the next few decades of my life". Sorry, it just comes off as whiny and immature, when there are so many others who, in the face of adversity, can rise above it in a
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am in awe with this work of art; I do not know how to find the words to adequately explain why I loved this so much. How about this:

- Lidia Yuknavitch is unflinchingly honest: her destructive tendencies, her flaws, mistakes, triumphs, loves are laid bare for the world to see.
- Her command of language is mesmerizing.
- I could feel every emotion possible while reading
- She is a hero. But also highly unpleasant.

Earlier this year I reviewed Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by the amazing Roxane Gay;
Bold and brave,
Raw and naked.... literally.

Talk about letting it all hang out there.
This woman is definitely not afraid of oversharing. 😄

In this shockingly honest, unfiltered memoir, Lidia Yuknavitch says: Hey, this is me. This was my journey. The good. The bad. Like it. Don't like it. Take it. Leave it. I spoke my truth. If you get something helpful out of it, awesome.
If it bothers you, it wasn't for you.
Debbie "DJ"
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, memoir, favorites
Incredible read! I have never read writing that is more beautiful, poetic, and profound. It is so rich, with words used in ways I have never seen or felt as deeply. This is a memoir that deals a lot with grief and sexual abuse. Sexual abuse that leads to severe overemphasis of the body. Lidia Yuknavitch's abuse at the hand of her father leads her down a path of extreme sexualization of her body. At times I did not know if I could read any further as the sex was so descriptive, so evocative, and ...more
Alan Scott
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Have you ever met a drunk before? What about someone who likes drugs? What about someone who screws anything on two legs? What about someone who is all three of these things and thinks this makes them REMARKABLY fascinating, edgy, and exotic? Now add a heaping helping of unhappy childhood, a sprinkling of ex-husbands, some chlorinated pool water, some celebrity name dropping, the most uninspired introduction imaginable, and regurgitate it all back up in a writing style which is wannabe Burroughs ...more
Sometimes when something is so great, you don’t dare try to touch it. You don’t want to leave the clouds and come back down to reality, chop it up into little word pieces and throw them together to make a confined review. It just doesn’t feel right. It threatens to take the magic away.

But I must come back to earth and try to describe what I felt about this book, just so I can spread the word. Many parts of her story read like a long prose poem, with amazing cadence and an ability to suck you in
Julie Christine
It is so fitting that the original cover of this book, which you see depicted here, arrives from the library marred by a plain, gray wrapper around the offensive bit—you know, a woman's bare breast. It is metaphor come to life for Lidia Yuknavitch's searing memoir, The Chronology of Water: hide and deny what is most natural, until it becomes a thing of shame.

Yet it would seem that Lidia Yuknavitch hides nothing. The Chronology of Water is ripe with shock-jock language and imagery. It is angry a
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Urgent and raw, Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water explores the many ways in which deep connection and art can heal past wounds and childhood trauma. In sharp prose Yuknavitch hops around in time, recording her memories and artfully sequencing them. A would-be professional swimmer who grew up in an abusive household and struggled with addiction early in life, only to have found redemption through writing as an adult, the author has no shortage of subjects to consider. Besides her extraor ...more
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: emilie, candibelle
this memoir is larger than life. lidia yuknavitch is larger than life. she is smart, funny, talented in about a thousand ways (she thinks the only thing she does well is swim but of course that's ridiculous), and a barrelfull of life. she's got so much life in her, she had to use gargantuan amounts of booze, drugs, and sex to put it all to sleep. and still, she didn't manage.

as a writer, she might annoy you. some of the things she says here annoyed me. i got annoyed when she wholesale-dissed 'n
This really blew me away. “Out of the sad sack of sad shit that was my life, I made a wordhouse,” Yuknavitch writes. Her nonlinear memoir ranges from her upbringing with an alcoholic, manic-depressive mother and an abusive father via the stillbirth of her daughter and her years of alcohol and drug use through to the third marriage where she finally got things right and allowed herself to feel love again after so much numbness. Reading this, you’re amazed that the author is still alive, let alone ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
“Excess Ain’t Rebellion, You’re Drinking What They’re Selling”

This book has an exceptional amount of hype surrounding it. Having supposedly created a new category labeled “Anti-Memoir,” I had some reasonably high expectations for this work.

If you take any kind of creative writing classes, or study literature at the college level you will already be familiar with the push toward legitimizing creative non-fiction memoirs. On a fundamental level I’m not really interested in that debate. If someone
I consider Lidia Yuknavitch a hero for writing about her experiences of child abuse with such candor and rawness. The first half of The Chronology of Water stunned me: her vivid descriptions of growing up with an abusive father and a passive mother felt both gripping and heartbreaking. Yuknavitch penned such great scenes about her childhood, using powerful verbs that rocketed me into her past as if I witnessed it with her. The way she writes about her emotions as a child, too - the terror, the h ...more
sarah gilbert
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I do not know what to say about the category of memoirs in which the writing resume is included as story. I do not know what to say about memoirs which treat the relationships of their lives so coldly, throwing up the one-side-of-the-story like angry paint on a wall. Lidia graffitis her life story all over the lives of those she's known, and I am not sure whether I want never to have known her or to wish that I had. Edited: I know her, now, and I feel differently.

Lidia, indeed, can write, and so
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This memoir sat on my shelf for at least year, a gift I somehow thought was about competitive swimming—sports being my least favorite subject. But when I heard Yuknavitch read in Los Angeles, I realized that hers was one of the strongest literary voices I have ever heard, anywhere, at any time. I came right home and plunged in. I can’t believe I let this mind-blowing book sit when I could have been having my life changed. Not in the self-helpy way, but in the way that great writing, ferocious wr ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book is much too pretentious for its own good. I mean, if you like reading bullshit like 'I may have been crap at making a home and family, but I succeeded at building a wordhouse' or countless references to how we're all water and how often the author wet her pants as a child and how everything smells like urine oh my god my dead baby my dead baby return to the water what is punctuation maybe if I wasn't so obsessed with piss I would learn more about periods and how they are supposed to oc ...more
Elyse  Walters
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
My reason I'm rating this memoir 3.5 stars is because:

#1) The title of this book fits the writing style. ('Parts' powerful and beautiful). Lovely water-human-connection-symbolism

#2) I especially resonated with metaphors associate with WATER.
"There are many ways to drown"
"Knee deep in the water of our lives"
"In water, like in books, you can leave your life"

As for the 'entire' of this memoir --I might have enjoyed it more if I was 19 or 20 years old. Lidia claims to be a 'weird', an edgy, writ
Brittany M.
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
My friend Heather mailed me this book. She said she didn't particularly like it, but she also couldn't get it out of her head, so she wanted me to read it so we could talk about it. As with every other memoir of substance abuse/mental illness/familial abuse I've read, this one left me feeling conflicted. What does it mean to despise a memoirist? Am I erasing their story because it doesn't conform to my expectations? By looking down on their stories, am I reinforcing the idea that there's only on ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
[4+] Yuknavitch uses language in a raw, poetic way to convey the emotional intensity of her experiences. While reading The Chronology of Water I was pushed and pulled into her life, unable to stop even when the going got rough. This is not a predictable memoir with a linear chronology. There is a lot of pain and chaos here but this book is so alive, it breathes.
May 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm completely torn about this book. In so many ways I loved it: her writing is magnificent--it's that rare prose that completely captivates and makes its own rules. She creates her own language to describe her life and the result is artistic, beautiful, original. Beyond that, while I found her to be one of the strangest people I've ever had the pleasure of reading about, I could really identify with her love of swimming and her passion for the written word. That is to say, despite all the stran ...more
Peter Derk
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The biggest change for me in turning 30 is that I've become a huge weeping pussy bitch.

I'm sorry. I don't mean to use those words, and I don't mean to use them like that. It's just that when I think about the way I am, when the talk is all inside, the junior high boy in me tries to take over a little bit. Adult me knows these words aren't really supposed to be used like this. But the best adult me can do when the junior high boy is really raging is to at least pare the word "pusshole" down to "p
Mar 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
It's very hard for me to review this book without being mean and hateful. I don't like the emotions I felt reading this, and I'm trying to be fair. I will say that people will either love or hate this author's "voice." Personally, I hated it. It made me nauseous.

I guess it's supposed to be "experimental." To have "on purpose" typos, misspelled words, made up words, no punctuation, run-on sentences, repetition of trite phrases like "nothing nothing nothing" and "straight no chaser." There is als
Betsy Robinson
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How to describe this writing and this writer? Feral? Wildly alive? Pulsating? It feels as if it bursts out of her, filled with juicy innards in a way that expresses everything about being human and flawed and fighting to stay alive. It is not how to write, but it is how to write as who you are—being only that, but with a lot of training and intelligence.

I have no idea how to describe what Lidia Yuknavitch does. But I’m glad she does it. It takes my breath away and pumps me full of oxygen . . . a
Angel Adeyoha
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: recently-read
I wanted to like this book, and I tried hard to do so, but I couldn't find anything relatable. I often have that problem with stories about middle/upper class white folks. Her blase attitude about drunkenly hitting a ' 5' tall brown skinned pregnant woman' was one example of the self centeredness that made this story just blur for me. She also seems to be trying so hard to be shocking, but instead of shocked I was un-invested and found her story rather predictable. At one point she goes on about ...more
Rachel Kelley
Aug 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
I expected so much from this book despite the mixed reviews I had been hearing from those around me. This is the first time I have had to give a book one star, and I gave it to my own teacher. This is also the first book I have ever really considered not finishing.

It may be this new "edgy is cool" movement that made this book blow up, but I have to tell you...I am not feeling it. And not because I just "can't understand the deeper meaning" or "appreciate the pain and struggle" happening here. My
Richard  Thomas
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
(This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown)

“Given a choice between grief and nothing, I choose grief.”
—William Faulkner

I wasn’t prepared for this memoir, this baptism by fire that Lidia Yuknavitch pours out onto the pages of The Chronology of Water (Hawthorne Books). I was aware of the controversy about the exposed breast on the cover, the grey band of paper wrapped around the book to appease those who can’t stand to see such obscenity. I was lured in by the glowing testimoni
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As been noted in other reviews, this one is an emotional wrecking ball. You'll cry at the beginning, a few times in the middle, and for sure at the end. Many of the chapters could (and do) serve as their own little essay worlds. And like her fiction, Lid can get all spazzy, verbose, and out of control with her nonfiction too. But it wouldn't quite be the same if she wasn't all of that. The greatest thing about this book, which can feel like a squishy beating heart in your hands at times, is that ...more
Oct 18, 2014 added it
Can't rate it just yet - will let it stay with me for a bit and see how I feel. ...more
This was such a painful but lovely memoir. Lidia Yuknavitch has a way with words and I found myself mesmerized by this book! So raw and emotional. Beautiful and sorrowful and just everything. Very raw so it's not for everyone but if you can handle it, it's so good.

Here are some of the great lines that might give you a sense of her voice (which is amazing):

“So yes I know how angry, or naive, or self-destructive, or messed up, or even deluded I sound weaving my way through these life stories at t
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Memoir with water in the title. [s] 5 591 May 25, 2021 04:27PM  
January meeting 1 26 Jan 03, 2013 11:01AM  
January meeting 1 6 Jan 01, 2013 08:43AM  

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Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the National Bestselling novels The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children, winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award's Ken Kesey Award for Fiction as well as the Reader's Choice Award, and the novel Dora: A Headcase, Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award an ...more

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