Poets & Writers

THE OTHER SIDE OF BURNING

IN HER 2016 TED talk, “The Beauty of Being a Misfit,” Lidia Yuknavitch said, “Even at the moment of your failure, you are beautiful. You don’t know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself.” Yuknavitch is no stranger to reinvention. After narrowly escaping an abusive childhood home, the would-be Olympic swimmer lost a college scholarship because of alcohol and drug use, then spent much of her twenties and thirties drinking heavily, in and out of two failed marriages (and two stints in jail), at times homeless, and struggling to make sense of the loss of her daughter, who was stillborn. But out of this pain grew an ability to tell stories about some of the darkest parts of life with the unflinching honesty and deep empathy that has come to characterize Yuknavitch’s work. She is the author of two previous novels, including the national best-seller The Small Backs of Children (Harper, 2015), which won the Oregon Book Award’s Ken Kesey Award for Fiction; three story collections; and a book of criticism about narrative and war. Last year’s popular TED talk will also become a book, The Misfit’s Manifesto, published by Simon & Schuster in the fall.

But Yuknavitch is perhaps best known for her acclaimed memoir, , published in 2010 by Hawthorne Books, an independent press in Portland, Oregon, where the author now lives with her husband and son. In the memoir—which won an Oregon Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Creative Nonfiction Award—Yuknavitch navigates her tumultuous young adulthood and the loss of her daughter, and explores how both writing and love helped transform her life. A formally inventive meditation on grief, womanhood, sexuality, violence, and the body—themes often examined in the author’s work—it is a book that disassembled, and ultimately helped redefine, what a

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