The opposite of fate : memories of a writing life

by Amy Tan

Paperback, 2003




New York : Penguin Books, 2004, c2003.


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 she escaped the curses of her past to make a future of her own. She takes us on a journey from her childhood of tragedy and comedy to the present day and her arrival as one of the world's best-loved novelists. Whether recalling arguments with her mother in suburban California or introducing us to the ghosts that inhabit her computer, The Opposite of Fate offers vivid portraits of choices, attitudes, charms, and luck in action--a refreshing antidote to the world-weariness and uncertainties we all face today.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Niecierpek
A collection of essays, talks at the universities, casual pieces written for various magazines, even a winning essay of 8 year-old then Amy on the importance of the local library. When they are good, they are very good, as good as Amy Tan can be. The problem is they repeat a lot. They obsessively
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dwell on the same topics which she tackles in her fiction: mother – daughter relationship, analysis of Amy Tan etc. On the other hand, when you learn more about her mother and their traumatic relationship, you do not really wonder why they surface again and again.
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LibraryThing member chicamimi
I never read an Amy Tan book before, but I was intrigued by her take on writing and how it works for her. I think I will now check out some of her books as I loved her way with words. It's obvious she loves language and the stories she shared about her life and how she approaches the world and
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writing was fascinating.
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LibraryThing member autumnesf
I picked this up out of curiosity about the author. I've read a few of her books and thought they were good - but usually not as good as people I know thought they were. Having said that, I enjoyed reading this one. Of interest to me was one chapter that spoke alot about how people try to make
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everything she writes about being Asian American as opposed to just an American writer. It was interesting to hear how so many people expect her to take on the topics of China, racism and be a voice for Asian Americans...when all she wants to do is tell the stories in her head. Also, there is a chapter that talks about a fund raiser she was involved in for a Chinese orphanage. Things didn't go well due to a lack of proper permits and they had their hands tied that night and couldn't ask for money. American media made it into something it was not and showed her picture along with one from "The Dying Rooms" and adoptions and fundraisers etc., were shut down for a bit. Crazy stuff. All in all, it was a good read if you are interested in this author. Check it out of the library.
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
I was lucky enough to get this book free with a copy of the Times newspaper some months ago. I wasn't sure what it would be about, but now that I've read it I'm very glad. 'The Opposite of Fate' is a collection of short essays and nonfiction pieces that Tan has written during her career, and cover
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a lot of the most important aspects of her life: her relationship with her mother; her family, and the tragedy of the deaths of her brother and father within a year to brain-tumours; visits to China; how her literature is viewed by students and critics; and also a nice medical mystery concerning Lyme disease, that seems like an episode of 'House' but written from the patient's perspective.
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LibraryThing member stien
A nice collection of essays, most of them on writing and the writer's life. Some of them are interesting but I got a bit tired reading about Tan's personal life. One story worth reading is about one of her friend who loses his life and seemingl sets Tan's writing life in motion. I love the
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description of the friend:"He had pale blonde hair, an amblyopic eye and a Wisconsin accent" pp: 42. I wish I could pen someone that quickly, that well.
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LibraryThing member NancyJak
What a fascinating book! Although it's a collection of essays written by Amy Tan, I didn't think it read like that at all. She talks about her family, how her father and brother both died from brain tumors, her mother's "craziness", her life as a writer, and as a member of a "rock" band.
LibraryThing member ovistine
Wonderful memoir of Amy Tan's life and writing, including several pages on what it means to be an Asian-American author and why that's different -- and shouldn't be different -- from being an American author.
LibraryThing member tenapy
Every book I read by Amy Tan grows me from the inside out. I gain such undertanding of my own life through the generous sharing of her own experiences and how they have informed her life, work and art. Reading The Opposite of Fate is like being in the middle of a life transforming conversation.
LibraryThing member Lindsayg
I absolutely loved this one. Tan has had such an interesting life, and she has a wonderful sense of humor, which you might not get as much from her fiction. Only one disclaimer: the chapter on her struggles with Lyme disease has made me terrified of ticks.
LibraryThing member deadgirl
I've almost forgotten how enjoyable it is to read Amy Tan. And I probably identify with her stories because they're filled with Chinese culture. This collection of her very own personal experiences helped me to see the person behind the fiction she has written - reading her life journey gave me a
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glimpse of her life and how she was shaped to be the person she is today. It made me laugh out loud in a lot of places, but I also identified with her pain and felt much empathy for her upbringing. An enjoyable read.
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LibraryThing member beckmears
A truly beautiful book. You could tell from many of Amy Tan's books that she had a turbulent relationship with her mother. These memoirs showed the strong love she had for the strong character who was her mother. I read this book not long after my mother died and was moved and comforted by it.
LibraryThing member PollyMoore3
Great to hear Amy Tan's own story. I fervently hope that she and others affected by Lyme disease get the right treatment; why does the medical establishment dig its heels in like this and insist it knows best, before it performs a turnaround as slowly as a battleship? A similar thing happened with
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stomach ulcers (now known to be caused by bacteria), and chronic fatigue syndrome..... It's not very scientific.
I think that regarding one's life as "the opposite of fate" is an excellent approach.
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LibraryThing member Rincey
An interesting memoir. It is very detached, like reading a collection of short stories rather than the usual memoir.
LibraryThing member sushitori
Good discussion of the sociopolitical debate facing "minority" writers. Does Amy Tan have a death wish or is she just a cat with 9 lives (she apparently thrives on being a daredevil)?
LibraryThing member apurdie
A great collection of essays for fans of Tan's work. One gains an excellent insight into growing with the mother that inspired books about fraught mother-daughter relationships, how a novel comes together, the process of turning a book into a movie, and the lifestyle of a writer. I listened to the
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audiobook read by the author, which added to the sense of having an informal chat and getting to know her better.
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LibraryThing member yougotamber
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
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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 ridiculously uptight: "Many writers think sarcasm is a clever way to show intelligence. But more mature writers know that mean-spiritedness is wearying and limited in its one-dimensional point of view." What I don't understand is... since when is sarcasm used SERIOUSLY? Her view of sarcastic writing just doesn't make sense. To make a long story short (unlike the book), I finished it... and didn't struggle through it (unless by struggle you mean... disagree with what is written) and I found that I don't particularly like this writer as a person. I do however think she has a great writing style and she can clearly tell a story. If you can get over her pretentious attitude, then read it.
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LibraryThing member mbmackay
A collection of reflections & semi-biographical writings - even better than her fictional memoirs.
Read Oct 2006
LibraryThing member James_Patrick_Joyce
Entertaining, enlightening, and an easy, comfortable read.

Amy Tan covers every stage of her life, with evocative imagery, people from movie stars (not too much of that) to a sometimes-crazy mother, loss of her brother and father to cancer, her experiences writing her first work and writing for
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She covers her more recent Lyme disease issues and generally gives me the kind of insight and access to her life that Joy Luck Club gave me to her general experience.

Well worth the read and it reinvigorated my desire to read more of her fiction!
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LibraryThing member DrFuriosa
This is a book of essays regarding Tan's life and writing process. There are some truly poignant essays about being a writer. Ultimately, though, most of the essays, including "Mother Tongue" (a staple of the Comp. I program at my PhD institution, which inspired mediocre, if not racist, essays from
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the white students), are just okay.
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LibraryThing member hootowl1978
This is a great way to write your memoirs. Stories about her books and her life are wonderful.
LibraryThing member j_d_p
Precious insight to a great writer's take on life and writing.
LibraryThing member AngelaLam
A good overall book about the life and thoughts of Amy Tan. Not her greatest work, but interesting and well-written nonetheless.


Audie Award (Finalist — 2004)



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