Lydia Yuknavich on Mythologies We Adopt to Make Sense of Violence

Never heard of her, but she writes like a goddamn angel. Beautiful words, ugly things. I think that true storytellers are my favourite authors – I’m thinking of Jeanette Winterson before she got her head stuck up her own intellect. Tolkien, obviously. As the Elizabethans said, you can’t have drama without conflict (although they probably expressed it something like – wearisome is the story without war, begone with thy pale tales of mewling kittens) and so I think that beautiful words about beautiful things lack the bones of a true story.

Oh ffs blah blah blahhhh…. Go read her, not me. Here’s a little quote to reroute this post back to its soul…

“I don’t know how to belong to the story in a way that doesn’t betray it. I don’t even want to be in the story.”


Lydia Yuknavich, author of the acclaimed new novel The Small Backs of Children, has a haunting essay up at Guernica about “Laume,” a mythological water spirit and guardian of all children that her Lithuanian grandmother introduced her to when she was young, and about the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of violence and tragedy:

I had a recurring dream for twenty years that I would have three sons.

I did not have three sons, and I’m fifty-two, so it’s not looking likely. What I did have was a daughter, who died, and one son, sun of my life. But I did have three husbands.

Maybe dreams don’t mean a goddamned thing.

Or maybe they mean everything.

They say you marry a man who is like your father. My father, the artist-turned-architect, molested and abused us. He was big. Angry. Loud-fisted. Marked us forever—three little women, making for…

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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

8 thoughts on “Lydia Yuknavich on Mythologies We Adopt to Make Sense of Violence”

  1. Funny how this relates to my abuse as a child. I didn’t have a grandma to introduce me to mystical creatures but I had Casper the friendly ghost. He stayed with me up until high school. Does that count? 

    Sent from Samsung Mobile


    1. Erm. This is kinda embarrassing. You know those simple old tin openers, the kind you take camping? Ours looked human to me as a small child; I called her Nola. Later on,I acted out suicide on my teddy bear.


        1. Well, I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, so I shall also tell you that I wanted vikings to save me. I also wanted to be a Roman Briton. And I knew Aragorn could save me, if only he were real. Yup I have always been a nerd :D it’s one of the few parts of myself that I always like, no matter how dark things are.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. I can haz magic!? What magic? Where is this magic whereof thou speakest? Btw I’ll answer your mail as soon as I’ve stopped bouncing round wp in hypomanic fashion :D


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