We lost the internet for a few days. This being Mexico, we waited patiently a couple of days for it to return, then went to the cable office and pitched a fit. The tech showed up that afternoon to set things right. Guess the cable office didn’t want another appearance of the crazy Gringo in there ranting and raving again.
So here I am back with another interesting book for you. A non-fiction offering by Amy Tan, she of The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife fame.
This is a book of ‘musings’, as the author calls them; a collection of essays and other forms culled from various sources; as she says
I call this a book of musings because the writings are mostly casual pieces rather than formal essays. Some are long, versions of conversational talks I gave at universities. Others are short, particular to the desperate hour in which I wrote them, for example, the eulogy for my editor, the incomparable Faith Sale; or the e-mail sent to friends after an unexpected disaster resulting in my near-demise made the national news. There is also a love poem to my husband, which counts as my most difficult exercise in brevity.
She has a longer piece about the making of the movie of The Joy Luck Club, and a lot stuff about her life and her relationship with her mother, a relationship which informs just about all her fiction.
She has had quite an interesting life, and since I know nothing at all about her other than her four novels, (one of which I read in a Spanish translation), I found her various ‘musings’ fascinating and intriguing. She is a lovely writer, and even her non-fiction has a story-telling feel to it – easy to read and causing the reader to want to know what comes next.
The title comes in part from the dichotomy of her part-time Christian minister father, whose spiritual stance was hope, and from her Chinese mother, whose attitude was always one of fate. So as she tells us, the opposite of fate is not randomness, but hope.
Want a couple of quotes? OK, here’s one:
Whether seemingly simple or fancy, the prose I like is such that everything is there for a reason — every word, every image, every bit of dialogue is needed; it adds, builds, and its dexterity is also transparent. And yet it has a generosity, there;s no skimpiness. That’s the craft part for me.
And one more, about fiction:
I think the best of fiction is its nature and its virtues. It can enlarge us by helping us notice small details in life. It can remind us to distrust absolute truths, to dismiss cliches, to both desire and fear stillness, to see the world freshly from closer up or farther away, with a sense of mystery or acceptance, discontent or hope, all while remembering that there are so many possibilities, and that this was only one.
She has experienced ghosts in her home, escaped death a couple of times, was part of a rock band along with Stephen King and some other big names, and been very ill with Lyme disease. She has had a big life.