Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lidia Yuknavitch: A Language All Her Own

The Chronology of Water

Reading Lidia Yuknavitch's memoir "The Chronology of Water" is like nothing else. I feel like I am moving with her across the wide expanse of a lifetime. I feel like I am feeling what she is feeling as written in this book. I feel wordless, yet embodied. I feel heavy with the pain I have yet worked through in my own life about childhood, self abuse, self destruction, self sabotage, and the beautiful madness of youth. I admit that I too was a swimmer and then a diver as a girl. Not as good a swimmer as Lidia, but I am taken back to that early love of the water. I love the smell of bleach when I clean the bathtub because it reminds me of chlorine from the pool. I return to those locker rooms and showers and muscled, yet secret "girl bodies" more beautiful than any I've since known. These were not thin or frail or undernourished bodies. They were wide shouldered, big armed, strong thighed girl bodies.

Lidia has her own language, a voice developed from both a rich understanding of feminist theory and its knowledge of the father-language, and full with the truth of woman speak. She is not a writer's writer, she does not flower on the page or relish abstraction, she cuts you and then salts you and then eats you for dinner. I feel like she understands womanhood better than anyone I've ever read. She understands girl shame and father hurt and culture war and sexuality better than anyone I've read. I identify with Lidia (and I must call her Lidia) and yet I'm a little afraid of her. The Chronology of Water is an important book.

"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 it is right in front of them. It's a shame we carry. The shame of wanting something good. The shame of feeling something good. The shame of not believing we deserve to stand in the same room in the same way as all those we admire. Big red. As on our chests."


LMB Knits said...

This looks amazing. I am a swimmer, too, though nothing like you or the author. Thanks for posting. I am ordering the book on kindle today.

Emily Arnason Casey said...

Swimming is wonderful! I hope you enjoy the book!!