The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life
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The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  5,128 ratings  ·  521 reviews
Delve into the stories from Amy Tan's life that inspired bestselling novels like The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement

Amy Tan has touched millions of readers with haunting and sympathetic novels of cultural complexity and profound empathy. With the same spirit and humor that characterize her acclaimed novels, she now shares her insight into her own life and how sh...more
Paperback, 398 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published October 27th 2003)
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Jeana
Reading this book is like sitting down to lunch with someone you hardly know and making a new friend. I happen to love Amy Tan's novels. I also like to read about writers and how they got their breaks. This memior/musings/essay book held a lot of the magic that is found in Joy Luck Club/Kitchen God's Wife with a lot of reality and the daily suffering of a writer.

I particularly enjoyed reading about Tan's mother (but of course it's the crazy/hard-lifed mothers that make Joy Luck and Kitchen God's...more
Eileen
Nov 01, 2008 Eileen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: writers
I highly recommend this book to all writers as well as those interested in the “evolution” of a writer. I truly enjoyed Amy Tan’s honest and insightful account of her “journey,” told through a series of essays and autobiographical sketches.

I especially appreciated Tan’s essay, “Required Reading and Other Dangerous Subjects,” in which she rejects the widespread belief that writers come in colors – and those colors do not mix and match. It is a biting critique of those who would dictate who is qu...more
Lisa
Jul 26, 2013 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: chinese-american, writers
Recommended to Lisa by: me
Shelves: memoirs
I really enjoyed this book. It was so different from the books I normally read. Amy Tan has led an interesting life! It was a little slow 3/4 of the way through, but I enjoyed reading about her life and relationship with her mother. Seeking the "American Dream" and the chinese culture of honoring and obeying your parents are so polar opposite. It's understandable that first generation kids grow up very confused.
Sundurra
I just read it because my mother recommended it to me. This book is clearly written for the author's fans. Since I had no idea who she was, I found it quite self exalting.
The author describes her life and the events that inspired her novels, which were inspired by her mother and grandmother's struggles in China.
A recurring topic throughout the book is the minority issues of being a chinese american and how she has been influenced by both cultures. Another important aspect of the book has to do w...more
Kandice
I have read all of Tan's books, usually within days of release, and this was a great way to "get to know her better". You can guess at a lot of her personal life just by reading her books, with the exception of Saving Fish from Drowning: A Novel, but it was still interesting to see just what was real and what was fiction.

There was a lot of repetetiveness, but that was to be expected. It says right on the description that these are mostly personal essays and speeches written over a period of year...more
Stephen Gallup
Despite the subtitle, I bought this book expecting it to be more of a memoir than it actually is. I think Amy Tan's main purpose in writing it was to set the record straight on a variety of topics, beginning with an inaccurate summary of her life that turned up in an edition of CliffsNotes. She does so in essays that directly address the points that need to be made, and also tosses in other writings that range from a college commencement address to an item she wrote for the newspaper when eight...more
Joshua Gross
This book started out well, but after awhile it became a little tiresome. This seems to be an almost random collection of essays written by Amy Tan for various reasons that get less and less interesting as I progressed. Some of them were really interesting, and I learned all kinds of things about Ms. Tan, but some of them were kind of similar to ones I'd already read, or were just long and not that interesting. Some of them were very very funny, though, and more than one were especially insightf...more
Eva Shang
After reading her memoir and finding out that so much in her books was based on her life, I empathized with Tan even more. I especially loved the stories about her mother's dementia, as it shows the true connection between mother and daughter. The answer to "When will you be home?" is not a specific time and date, but "We're almost home, because we love you so so much and can't wait to see you."
Parts of the memoir were funny, parts were truly sad, but I also empathized with Tan's childhood (alt...more
Clark Carlton
Amy Tan is one of the finest American writers we have. I am making it a point not to call her one of our finest women writers or Chinese-American writers or a writer of color, an issue which is explored in this memoir. This book may be a special taste -- you might need to be someone who loves her work and is interested in writing to fully appreciate it. Amy tells her stories with certainty and elegance and never overstates anything. I listened to this book which was all the better for having the...more
Ruth
Feb 02, 2013 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those wishing a relaxing read!
Recommended to Ruth by: My daughter Susan
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Aa Jeana Watters wrote in her review it made you feel as if you were having coffee and talking with a new and wonderful friend. I have read all of her books and have never been disappointed! In this book particularly, I enjoyed the inter-action and the love/scorn relatinship between Amy and her mother. Despite her protests to the contrary, I do believe there was much to be learned about the Chinese culture in this writing. The Mother seemed very successful in maki...more
Nicole
May 27, 2012 Nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Tan fans, folks with a burgeoning interest in writing
Recommended to Nicole by: The Dusty Bookshelf, Lawrence, Kansas
This is less a memoir and more an exploration by Tan of her own (and others') writing. She discusses her reasons for writing and her inspirations. I now have three new books (Lolita, Jane Eyre, and Love Medicine) on the stack thanks to Tan's chapter, "My Love Affair with Vladimir Nabokov," on her favorite reads. Tan also examines one of the main themes that put her on the literary map: The relationship between mother and daughter. To some, this might get tiresome or even trivial. However, I foun...more
Katey
"My mother believed in God's will for many years. It was if she had turned on a celestial faucet and goodness kept pouring out. She said it was faith that kept all these good things coming our way, only I thought she said 'fate,' because she couldn't pronounce that 'th' sound in 'faith.'
And later, I discovered that maybe it was fate all along, that faith was just an illusion that somehow you're in control. I found out the most *I* could have was hope, and with that I was not denying any possibil...more
Cheryl
Dec 31, 2013 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cheryl by: Friends of the Library
Thoroughly enjoyed this interesting collection collection of memories from Amy Tan's life. I enjoyed what Ms. Tan shared and she is someone I probably would enjoy meeting. Because of the book, I'd go out of my way to hear her speak.

Rating and writing a review of a living person's memoir is difficult because it is too easy to make the leap into rating a life and that's certainly not the original purpose of Goodreads.
Michelle
I read the Joy Luck Club many years ago and absolutely loved it, but have never read anything else from her. I wasn't expecting too much out of a non-fiction book, but for a autobiography/essay/speech/random writings I felt that this book read like a novel.
I loved seeing how her real life was intertwined into her novels, making memories into literature.
Kathy Chung
reviewed at :Mama Kucing Meow :The Opposite of Fate : A Book of Musing By Amy Tan

an interesting book. It's nice to know where she got her inspirations
Hannah
Fantastic! I think I may have found a new favourite author to influence my reading choices over the next few months. Refreshingly honest and beautifully written. I feel like I've been listening to the reminiscing of an old friend.
LauraN
Jan 07, 2014 LauraN rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: bio
Los libros de Amy Tan me suelen gustar bastante. Supongo que tiene que ver con su forma de escribir las cosas, por ese toque íntimo, por las relaciones entre diferentes generaciones en una familia, por tocar el tema de la China antigua y la moderna, por el contraste entre culturas y por el día a día, y los años, que pasan por sus personajes. Además hay reflexiones interesantes entre sus páginas que te hacen meditar sobre tu punto de vista y tus opiniones. Siempre me ha dejado un buen sabor de bo...more
Christine Keleny
I was recently given this book by a new friend of mine - a bookie such as myself - so I just had to read it. I had also seen the movie "Joy Luck Club" and really enjoyed it so I thought I would enjoy learning about the author. Mostly it made me want to pick up a few of her books to read. I've got them on my list!

Genre: Memoir (398 pages)

Blurb: (from Goodreads): Amy Tan has touched millions of readers with haunting and sympathetic novels of cultural complexity and profound empathy. With the same...more
Sheila
Good book – she writes a self-deprecating memoir. Her family history was very interesting.
Trisha Owens
Interesting musings from the author, Amy Tan. Mixed with hilarious moments and tragic ones, she is able to transcend whatever life throws at her and forge her own path. You will find plentiful descriptions of what it is like to be an author and the process one goes through to do it. She was born into a family (in America) who believed in Fate, yet she creates her own destiny. Love her other literary accomplishments, The Kitchen God's Wife, and The Joy Luck Club, The Bonesetter's Daughter. This N...more
Claire
Funny and insightful and full of charm. Loved it.
J. Libby
A collection of essays re-printed as a sort of kinda memoir (or musings as the subtitle reads), The Opposite of Fate is a fascinating peak into the life and brain of Amy Tan. I really like that this book is not an out and out autobiography. I find most autobiographies difficult to connect to (with the exception of Katherine Hepburn's Me: Stories of My Life), but the experience that Tan constructs here are peeks into her psyche at different times of her life. It's a refreshing way to access a per...more
AmberBug
The book is a series of essays/stories throughout her life and about her life and writing. Although the book is extremely well written and has some interesting thoughts in it, I find Amy Tan a little full of herself and pretty pretentious when expressing her views on various subjects. There are also numerous times when she repeats stories (although this is probably because she writes the book in essay style which I didn't particularly care for). Here's a good example of a statement I found ridic...more
Heather
I loved this book. I've never really been one for reading memoirs or nonfiction, but reading this book was just as pleasurable as reading any of Amy Tan's novels. Her writing style was just as poetic, just as recognizable in the form and tone as any of the novels she's written which take place centuries and continents away from these stories.

This book is essentially Tan's explanation of how became a writer, how she found herself unexpectedly falling into author-hood, and how she coped with the r...more
Jessica
I was going through Amy Tan withdrawls when this book was published. I couldn't understand why she wasn't publishing books anymore, and it was all very discouraging.

She answered that question in this book, of course, but this is so much more than just "I had to stop writing for a while because..." Her musings, her memories, her ideas - they were all poured into this book for her fans.

I admit it, I harbor a secret hope that one day when I'm walking through San Francisco's China Town, I'll see the...more
Susanhayeshotmail.com
Really enjoyed this collection of essays, some of which overlap, covering many topics; relationships, forgiveness,fun, fear, fate and faith, ghosts, writing and reading. Some of my favorite bits:


"What had started as subterfuge on my part grew into an epiphany. I began to so see how much I actually knew about my mother and myself. She was losing her mind, yes, but I was losing defenses built up and fortified from childhood. . . . It had been so simple to make my mother happy. All I had to do was...more
SwensonBooks
Reading Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings warms the writer's soul. With the same exquisite writerly voice that characterizes her wonderful novels, Amy speaks to readers who write about the creative process. Her first book of non-fiction, it reveals the power of moral ambiguity in finding a focus for one's life work.

What disturbs you as a writer? What makes you uncomfortable? With what do you struggle with to make meaning of without resolution? This is where the writing begins.

C...more
Linda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Margaret
Amy Tan’s book “The Opposite of Fate.” The book (she calls musings) is a collection of essays, speeches, and articles (one dating back to when she was 7 years old and others written for this book). For me, the most powerful piece was the last one. The author describes a mysterious illness that involved thinning hair, raid heart rate, palpitations, stiff muscles, joint pain, insomnia, hallucinations, fatigue, etc. Multiple physical tests all came up negative. The doctors suggested that she had PT...more
Jan
Amy Tan begins The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings, a collection of essays that spans her literary career, on a humorous note; she is troubled that her life and novels have become the subject of a "Cliff's Notes" abridgement. Reading the little yellow booklet, she discovers that her work is seen as complex and rich with symbolism. However, Tan assures her readers that she has no lofty, literary intentions in writing her novels--she writes for herself, and insists that the recurring patterns...more
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What is the meaning of the title: _The Opposite of Fate_? 1 3 Mar 04, 2013 07:37AM  
The Rory Gilmore ...: The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan 8 73 Sep 30, 2012 05:18AM  
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Amy Tan (Chinese: 譚恩美; pinyin: Tán Ēnměi; born February 19, 1952) is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and what it means to grow up as a first generation Asian American. In 1993, Tan's adaptation of her most popular fiction work, The Joy Luck Club, became a commercially successful film.

She has written several other books, including The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hun...more
More about Amy Tan...
The Joy Luck Club The Bonesetter's Daughter The Kitchen God's Wife The Hundred Secret Senses Saving Fish from Drowning

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“Thanks to my mother, I was raised to have a morbid imagination. When I was a child, she often talked about death as warning, as an unavoidable matter of fact. Little Debbie's mom down the block might say, 'Honey, look both ways before crossing the street.' My mother's version: 'You don't look, you get smash flat like sand dab.' (Sand dabs were the cheap fish we bought live in the market, distinguished in my mind by their two eyes affixed on one side of their woebegone cartoon faces.)

The warnings grew worse, depending on the danger at hand. Sex education, for example, consisted of the following advice: 'Don't ever let boy kiss you. You do, you can't stop. Then you have baby. You put baby in garbage can. Police find you, put you in jail, then you life over, better just kill youself.”
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“I wanted to capture what language ability tests could never reveal: her intent, her passion, her imagery, the rhythms of her speech and the nature of her thoughts.” 5 likes
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