Reading: The Opposite of Fate, by Amy Tan

The Opposite of FateI am in the midst of getting the house tidied up, as we’re having friends over for dinner tonight – I love the end result of this process of cleaning and tidying, because it means not only a nice clean space in which to entertain, but also a nice clean house for at least a day or two after tonight as well.

That’s a rather rare event so I’m all for celebrating it when it does happen.

It’s funny the efforts we’ll go to for others, when in retrospect, we can see how beneficial it is for ourselves as well. As to why I don’t just keep the house clean on a regular basis, I don’t have a clue. Except that I don’t like cleaning, and it takes the threat of friends seeing the mess in which we live to move me enough to do something about it.

All of which leads me to The Opposite of Fate, by Amy Tan. No, this is not a book about cleaning. It’s a book of musings by Amy Tan on her life and on her writing. And the reason why I’m currently reading this right now is because I’ve spent the morning cleaning up, there’s still a little bit more to do, but I was hungry, and since I found myself eating lunch by myself (my husband is out doing the shopping for tonight’s dinner, and the kids have all gotten their own various versions of lunch), I did what I always do when I’m dining solo: I reached for a book.

I didn’t feel in the mood for fiction, so I decided to dip into The Opposite of Fate. And I’m very glad I did. It’s wonderful so far, and since it’s been a while since I’ve read an Amy Tan novel, it feels good to luxuriate in her words again:

In gathering these pieces for the book, I made a new realization, so obvious that I was stunned I had not seen the pattern a hundred times before. In all of my writings, both fiction and nonfiction, directly or obliquely but always obsessively, I return to questions of fate and its alternatives. I saw that these musings about fate express my idiosyncratic and evolving philosophy, and this in turn is my “voice,” the one that determines the kinds of stories I want to tell, the characters I choose, the details I decide are relevant. In my fictional stories, I have chosen characters who question what they should believe at different moments in their lives, often in times of loss. And while I never intended for the pieces in this current nonfiction book to explain my fiction, they do.

11 thoughts on “Reading: The Opposite of Fate, by Amy Tan

  1. Molly

    I have yet to read an Amy Tan novel – I am ashamed to say, although I do have a couple of my shelves waiting for their turn. If all of her books are as eloquent as this one paragraph, I am in for a real treat.

    Thanks for sharing and enjoy a great time tonight with good friends in a clean house :)
    .-= Molly´s last blog ..Fluff – Fright – and Sensational =-.

  2. Janel

    I love reading about an author’s life and writing process.

    Have fun with the dinner party! My house is pretty much the same way. No matter how hard I try, it always ends up messy. Oh how I wish I was a habitually neat person.
    .-= Janel´s last blog ..Jumblicious 8/28/09 =-.

    1. Penny

      I could have written your first paragraph myself. I go back to school Wednesday (I am a teacher) and my plan is to clean the house between now and then. I’m still psyching myself up to do it.

    1. Belle

      Very inspiring so far, although I haven’t read too much of it. I have this love of memoirs written by writers; that glimpse into their writing worlds can be so motivating.

  3. Belle

    I’d love to hear what you all think of this book, if you do get a chance to check it out. I haven’t read much of it yet, but what I’ve read so far has been so good. And while it’s not fiction, Tan’s nonfiction has the same richness that her fiction has, so it’s definitely a good read if you’ve enjoyed her novels.


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