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Review of The Chronology of Water

May 17, 2011

The Chronology of Water

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 father’s near death in the ocean, and finally to the healing powers of swimming lap after lap in a neighborhood pool.
This was an evening read – the light of day seemed too intrusive and disruptive to the book’s powerful narrative.  I needed the cloak of darkness to visit the deep recesses of the author’s soul that she so generously laid bare.  There was nothing warm and fuzzy about it, but if you’ve ever hit a rocky point in your life – and who hasn’t? – there will be plenty of familiar territory, for sure.  Yuknavitch holds nothing back and leaves nothing behind.  Every last piece of detritus of her sorrowful self is laid flat on the page in a rage that is both mournful and addictively compelling.
The Chronology of Water is a courageous look at her life and how it traveled  down a dark path only to emerge on the other side bright and hopeful proving once again that love and motherhood is a powerful antidote.  If you liked Townie by Andre Dubus III and want to add lyricism, poetic prose and a little more grit to the mix, this book is for you.

Hawthorne Books, 2011

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