Saturday, April 23, 2016

T: Amy Tan & THE JOY LUCK CLUB

"People talk about this 'bucket list’: 'I need to go to this country, I need to skydive…’ Whereas I need to think as much as I can, to feel as much as I can, to be conscious and observe and understand me and the people around me as much as I can." - Amy Tan 

I read Amy Tan's THE JOY LUCK CLUB (Turtleback, Adult) when I was in high school. The book features the mothers and daughters in several Chinese American families.The scene I still remember is the Chinese New Year crab dinner, hosted by June and her parents. Invited to the dinner are Lindo and Tin Jong and their daughter Waverly, a successful professional working at Price Waterhouse and former chess champion. 

When the two were children, Waverly had said to June, "You aren't a genius like me" after June botched a piano recital.  As adults, Waverly still torments June. During dinner, Waverly compliments June's hair, and in the same breath, she hints that June's stylist could give her AIDS. Waverly recommends her hair dresser to June and then implies that June might not be able to afford him. Finally June points out that Waverly's company hasn't paid her yet for her freelance writing work. Waverly smugly responds that the quality of June's writing isn't good enough by her company's standards. Waverly demonstrates that in spite of her looking-good-on-paper accomplishments, she is an awful dinner guest. 

Being Chinese American, I feel particularly connected to this scene because it hits home. I've known people who behave like Waverly. The scene also shows the petty rivalries that can sometimes occur internally among members of a community, such as this story's Chinese American community. What I feel is behind this is an unspoken perception, true or false, that there's not enough of a resource to go around among the group. Approval and recognition for Chinese females, for example. 

Have you read THE JOY LUCK CLUB? Have you ever hosted a terrible guest?

15 comments:

Pat Hatt said...

Ugg there have been a few guests that I have just wanted to go away, mainly in university. Annoying drunks lol I seen the movie, that count? lol

Stephanie Faris said...

I have never read it, but when I was a kid, we had distant relatives just show up on our doorstep, kids and all. They were traveling to Florida and didn't think it was a big deal to just stay with us a few days!

Luana Krause said...

I love this book. Amy Tan is a magnificent writer. The film was also very well done.

Luana Krause said...

I love this book. Amy Tan is a magnificent writer. The film was also very well done.

M.J. Fifield said...

I, too, read this book in high school. I thought it was beautiful book. I saw the movie, too, but I don't remember it well.

Lynn Proctor said...

I've never read this one- I guess I must have hosted a terrible guest or two- probably blocked it out

Lynn Proctor said...

I've never read this one- I guess I must have hosted a terrible guest or two- probably blocked it out

The Silver Fox said...

I've been fairly lucky with the guests I've welcomed into my home... but at some point, you want them all to leave.

Michelle Wallace said...

The guest from hell - I think we've all played host to one of these at some stage...and it's worse when it's family. You know what they say - you can choose your friends but not your family.
Writer In Transit

Random Musings said...

This character doesn't sound like someone who I would have invited round for dinner once let alone twice! People who have to put others down to make themselves look better drive me nuts!
Debbie

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

I haven't read any of Amy Tan's novels though I've seen them around. Sometimes people are just rude and hateful. I don't know why, but I doubt they have many true friends. And even family will avoid them whenever possible. Have a nice weekend.

Elizabeth said...

I hate it when people are rude like that. I like to go back to Thumper's saying, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." This sounds like a good book, I like reading about different cultures and their viewpoints.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Sounds like a good book to get one's teeth into. rude dinner guests are of course not confined to any one culture or community :) Liked that quote the post begins with as well, enjoyed reading the whole. All the best for the last week of the challenge,

Nilanjana.
Ninja Minion, A-Z 2016
Madly-in-Verse

Megan Whitson Lee said...

I have only read Amy Tan's shorter writings (which I loved), but I own several of her novels. I WILL get around to reading them one of these days. In the meantime, a few years ago I read Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation, and her style is a lot like Tan's.

Liz A. said...

I only saw the movie. The part with the chess is part of one of the lit books students read nowadays. 9th grade? 10th? I can't remember.

Liz A. from
Laws of Gravity

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