The Poetry of Water

 “I fought like a woman whose father had betrayed her

and whose mother abandoned her.”


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I had never heard of this local Portland author until I went to a Chuck Palahniuk signing. I didn’t really pay attention to Lidia at first because I was there for Chuck and figured she was just “filler”. But then she read a short chapter that didn’t make it into her new book. It was startling, engrossing and amazingly poetic. The excerpt was just so compelling I really wanted to read her book, The Chronology of Water.

I loved this book. It was a striking memoir that was sometimes poetry, sometimes stream of consciousness, sometimes feeling like a journal entry or an intimate conversation. I absolutely loved her writing style–raw and emotional without being self-indulgent or sappy. This is the kind of book I want to buy and read again and again.

The book starts with the stillborn birth of her daughter. Instead of starting with her birth and life, it begins with a death that shaped her. It was haunting and heartbreaking.

“I thought about starting this book with my childhood, the beginning of my life. But that’s not how I remember it. I remember things in retinal flashes. Without order. Your life doesn’t happen in any kind of order. Events don’t have cause and effect relationships the way you wish they did. It’s all a series of fragments and repetitions and pattern formations.” 

I loved the theme of water throughout the entire book. She was a competitive swimmer as a kid and young adult. I could relate to her stories about swimming laps and what the water does to your brain when you swim. The theme of water continued with her alcoholism and her fluid sexuality, her fluid love with various destructive people.

“Before important swim meets? He’d make all the women swimmers weigh themselves. If you didn’t hit your weight? You’d get ‘licks.’ A styrofoam kickboard whack at the back of your thighs and ass. One lick for every pound of flesh. In this way the pool became a place of shame. [pg 41]”

“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.”

Water is an unstoppable force as is this author’s voice. She overwhelmed me at times but in a good way. The last time I felt this way about a book was when I read Portia de Rossi’s memoir.

“You can tell a lot about a person from seeing them in the water. Some people freak out and spaz their way around like giant insects, others slide in like seals, turn over, dive down, effortlessly. Some people kind of tread water with big goofy smiles, others look slightly broken-armed and broken-legged or as if they are in some kind of serious pain. [pg 99]”

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a powerful, inspiring read. If you read it, let me know what you thought of it.


Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

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