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The Chronology of Water

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  5,978 Ratings  ·  894 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 March 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: e-pube, favourites, i-own
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
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;
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.
Debbie "DJ"
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, memoir, lgbt
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
This book is holy. It is the closest thing to a bible I have found. I starred so many quotes in it that I might as well have just put a giant star over the whole book. Read it. Even if you do not carry around girl rage, or daughter rage, or destruction as method of salvation. Read it if you are human, if you have a heartbeat and if sometimes that heartbeat threatens to burst right out of your chest, if you feel love, hate, desperation ... if you feel. Please, just read it. I wish I could give a ...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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Diane Prokop
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When I read a book, I stick little Post-it notes at the top of a page so that when I find something particularly smart, poignant or noteworthy I can find my way back. By page 100 of the memoir, The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch, I realized that almost every page had a Post-it, so I gave up. It’s that smart and that poignant and that good.
Yuknavitch uses the running theme of water to look back at her life from Olympic swimming hopeful, to winning a college swimming scholarship, to her
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sitting on my couch. Listening to noninvasive, lyric-less music with headphones. Reading Lidia Yuknavitch's memoir "The Chronology of Water." I stop. Check the time. Two hours have passed since I last came up for air. Whoa. She just drugged me. Plopped me in front of a psychedelic screen saver and had her way with my brain when I wasn't looking.

My friend sent me an email first telling me that she'd had a dream that she told me we don't like the same books. We don't in real life, this is true, sh
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Water is an unstoppable force. Given any obstacle, the sheer force of water will cut its way through or ignore the obstacle entirely and force its own way around. This is not a possibility, but an inevitability. Nothing withstands water’s power.

I found this interesting, given that water is a focal theme in Lidia Yuknavitch’s “The Chronology of Water,” as Yuknavitch’s prose has that same power. The very first line of the book reads: “THE DAY MY DAUGHTER WAS STILLBORN, AFTER I HELD the future pink
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
This raw memoir should be read slowly, and with alcohol or psychoactive drugs at hand. Reading about Yuknavitch’s insights regarding her experiences as an abused child, alcoholic, competitive swimmer, frightened daughter, academic, mother, drunk driver and countless other identities that she slips in and out of is exhausting. Exhausting and rewarding. Discovery of self and the process of beginning to humanize herself and her dysfunctional family are common themes not explicitly described but vis ...more
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
out-freaking-standing. i want to read every word this woman has ever written.

exhibit 1: I fought like a woman whose father had betrayed her and whose mother abandoned her.

exhibit 2: I didn't know yet tha tdesire comes and goes whenever it wants. I didn't know yet that sexuality is an entire continents. I didn't know yet how many times a person can be born.

exhibit 3: You see it is important to understand how damaged people don't always know how to say yes, or to choose the big thing, even when
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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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“If I could go back, I'd coach myself. I'd be the woman who taught me how to stand up, how to want things, how to ask for them. I'd be the woman who says, your mind, your imagination, they are everything. Look how beautiful. You deserve to sit at the table. The radiance falls on all of us.” 69 likes
“This is something I know: damaged women? We don't think we deserve kindness. IN fact, when kindness happens to us, we go a little berserk. It's threatening. Deeply. Because if I have to admit how profoundly I need kindness? I have to admit that I hid the me who deserves it down in a sadness well.” 66 likes
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