Amy Tan

03 Aug

Amy Tan

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI have long been a fan, M and I (and Tess and a number of others) having wept through the final scenes of the excellent movie of The Joy Luck Club. Recently I bought (at the remainder shop) her book of memoirs and essays The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings (2003) and recommend it highly. Read it for the sheer pleasure, and to be disabused of much crap (some of it well-meaning) about “being multicultural” and about “being Chinese”. Read it for her words on being a writer, some of the best I have ever read on the subject. And read her novels.

So why do I write?

Because I once thought I couldn’t, and now I know I can…

I write stories because I have questions about life, not answers. I believe life is mysterious and not dissectable. I think human nature is best described in even a long-winded story and not in a psychoanalytical diagnosis…

I write because I have been in love with words since I was a child. I hoarded words from the thesaurus and the dictionary as though they were magic stones, toys, treasures. I loved metaphors and used them before I knew what the word meant. I thought of metaphors as secret passageways that took me to hidden rooms in my heart, and my memory as the dreamy part of myself that lived in another world. I played with my memory of both real and imaginary life the way girls play with their Barbies and boys with their penises. I dressed it up, changed it a dozen times, manipulated it, tugged at it, wondering if it would enlarge and pulsate until others noticed it too. I thought of it as a weapon, a secret, a sin, an incorrigible vice…

I also think of reading as an act of faith, a hope that I will discover something remarkable about ordinary life, about myself. And if the writer and the reader discover the same thing, if they have that connection, the act of faith has resulted in an act of magic. To me, that’s the mystery and the wonder of both life and fiction — the connection between two unique individuals who discover in the end that they are more the same than they are different.

And if that doesn’t happen, it’s nobody’s fault. There are still plenty of other books on the shelf to choose from.

I enjoy playing with my blog too, even at my advanced age.

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Posted by on August 3, 2005 in America, Asian, book reviews, Chinese and China, Fiction, literary theory/criticism, Multicultural, writers


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