Sometime in 2011, at the house of friends in Portland, Oregon, I idly picked up and began to read the book sitting on the side table. It was a paperback bound in a strip of gray paper by an author whose name was unfamiliar to me. Within the hour, I looked up and said to my host, “Either you are giving this book to me or you’re going to need to walk me to Powell’s, because I’m not getting on a plane back to Boston without this book.”
The book was Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir The Chronology of Water, and it was the most gripping, honest, and commanding book I’d read in years. For those of us who have spent years of our lives pursuing degrees in how to tell a story, there is nothing like coming upon a writer who clearly couldn’t care less about the rules, but fashions a narrative by what appears to be pure, intuitive skill with a heavy helping of stripped down honesty.—Alden Jones
The RumpusYour 2011 memoir, The Chronology of Water, has a bit of a cult following. Readers coming into your new novel, The Small Backs of Children, may well be bringing in associations with the details of your personal life. Within the first ten pages of Small Backs, you lay out a history for the main character, “the writer,” that’s very similar to your own: competitive swimmer; former heroin addict; mother of a dead daughter; mother of an alive son; married to a filmmaker; etc. You end the chapter with the statement: “Every self is a novel in progress. Every novel is a lie that hides the self.” Can you talk about your own ideas about writing fiction vs. memoir?
Lidia YuknavitchIt does? A bit of a cult following? HURRAY!
To read the entire interview, go to The Rumpus.