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Friday, February 20, 2015

A gift of giving

 “Writing is an extreme privilege, but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” – Amy Tan

Amy Tan said that while growing up she didn’t have a lot of books in the house, primarily because her immigrant parents did not read English.   But, she said “Words, to me, were magic.  You could say a word and it could conjure up all kinds of images or feelings or a chilly sensation, or whatever.  It was amazing to me that words had this power.” 

And so she decided to use them as a writer. 

Like many writers before her, Tan did not start out to be a creative writer.  In fact, she wasn’t a writer at all.  She first worked as a switchboard operator, carhop, bartender, and pizza maker – all professions that gave her great grist for her writing mill. 

Then she became a business writer.  But she had this nagging feeling that she ought to tell her own story – if not to share with others, at least to get down for posterity.  So she wrote The Joy Luck Club.  Now translated into 35 languages, it has become, arguably, reflective of every immigrant woman’s experience.  In 1993, it was made into a successful movie. 

Since then, Tan has written several other bestselling novels, including The Kitchen God’s Wife and The Bonesetter’s Daughter and become known as a writer of mother-daughter relationship novels. She’s also written a collection of essays and 2 kids’ books, one being Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, which was animated and put on PBS.   She, where she appeared in a short spot encouraging children to write.
Amy Tan
A gifted musican as well as writer, Tan performed for years in a unique “all writer” rock band.  Besides Tan, the band, which raised millions for charity, included such famous writers as Dave Barry, Robert Fulghum, Barbara Kingsolver, Roy Blount, Jr., Cynthia Heimel and Stephen King.  The band's self-mocking name:  "Rock Bottom Remainders"  was probably the last name that could be applied to any of the works by Tan and her bandmates in this luminous writing group.

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