This is not your mother's memoir. In The Chronology of Water, Lidia Yuknavitch expertly moves the listener 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 define as untraditional because of her attraction to both men and women. Her emergence as a writer evolves at the same time and takes the narrator on a journey of addiction, self-destruction, and ultimately survival that finally comes in the shape of love and motherhood.
"This isn't a memoir 'about' addiction, abuse, or love: it's a triumphantly unrelenting look at a life buoyed by the power of the written word." (Publishers Weekly)
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Vicious, Moving, and Artful
Yuknavitch writes gorgeous sentences. I often found myself rewinding just to listen to the way she makes "a sentence hum" to paraphrase her own description of her writing.
Her life is shocking and sometimes difficult to stomach, but her nonlinear account of these events makes the narrative easier to read.
Though there is no doubt in my mind that Delaine is a talented performer, her reading of this book sometimes overshadowed the writing. Her vocal patterns are artistic, certainly, but can be repetitive or overly theatrical. She has the tendency to go from very quiet to ear-piercingly loud, so I often had to keep my hand on the volume control.
Halfway through the book, I started to become disenchanted with the constant rage and self-destruction she depicts and re-enacts through language. Then there was a turning point near the end that put the rest in perspective.
Though this was an incredible book, I almost wish I had read it traditionally rather than listening to an audiobook. It's not that Delaine's performance ruined the book, rather I would have liked to take the book at my own pace with more neutral inflections.
Best Memoir EVER!!
- Sondra Healey