Nicole's Reviews > The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life

The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
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May 27, 12

Recommended to Nicole by: The Dusty Bookshelf, Lawrence, Kansas
Recommended for: Tan fans, folks with a burgeoning interest in writing
Read from May 18 to 27, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

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 found Tan's writing on this subject in The Opposite of Fate to be very compelling because it is human nature and curiosity to want to understand our origins and the persons who brought us into the world and helped shaped our thinking. Tan shows how important, complex, and even humorous this relationship can be.
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Reading Progress

05/19/2012 page 60
14.0% "I ask myself: What's real? What's important? What do I gain in believing one reality over another? What do I lose? And if we understand the mysteries of the universe, if they end up being explained entirely by mathematics, as Pete said they could be, will they still bless us with the same amazing joy?"
05/21/2012 page 154
37.0% "When people ask why I joined a band, I tell them this: I wanted to have fun. I know the answer sounds superficial. But how else should I explain this irresponsible urge shaped by childhood? Should I confess I wanted to waste time and money? To be with friends who were purveyors of shame and corruption? To believe once again that miracles could happen? No, this is the only logical answer: I simply wanted to have fun."
05/22/2012 page 178
43.0% "A fiction writer has the perquisites of solitude, artistic freedom, and control. She has the luxury to go into a funk for two weeks and not get anything done. Why would any writer in her right mind ever consider making a movie instead? That's like going from being a monk or a nun to serving as a camp counselor for hundreds of problem children."
05/23/2012 page 209
50.0% "How does hope change, transform, endure according to life's quirky circumstances? And what of the circumstances themselves: Do we believe they are simply a matter of fate? Or do we view them as the Chinese concept of luck, the Christian concept of God's will, the American concept of choice? And depending on what we believe, how can we find balance in our lives? What do we accept? What do we feel we can still change?"
05/25/2012 page 266
64.0% "Did ghosts serve as my muses? Aren't ghosts merely delusions in grief? I know now that these questions are meaningless and the answer is absolute. What are ghosts if not the hope that love continues beyond our ordinary senses? If ghosts are a delusion, then let me be deluded. Let me believe in the limitlessness of love, the beauty of contradictions, the miracle that is an ordinary part of life."
05/27/2012 page 322
77.0% "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 often I can't express myself any other way, and I think I'll implode if I don't find the words."

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