Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Opposite of Fate Recap

Currently Reading Longitude Dava Sobel

Ok, I finished up Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan yesterday. I liked it. It's a bunch of essays by Amy Tan, not all of them new. She's fairly neurotic and it's a bunch of essays about herself so it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

If you've ever wanted an (auto)biography of Tan, then you'll like it. If you like Amy Tan and want to seperate fact from fiction (for instance, her mom's life story plays out in Joy Luck Club and Kitchen God's Wife fairly heavily) then, hey read this book. If you want to feel better about your relationship with your mother, read it, because to say Tan and her mom have issues is putting it mildly.

It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but if it is, it's pretty good.

I've moved onto Longitude. I'm not that far into it, but so far, so good, except for one glaring omission. How can you write a book about the history of LONGITUDE for chrissakes and not include a map. I mean really. These navigation stories would be a lot more interesting if I could remember my Age-of-the-Explorers geography. Which I can't, because I'm no longer in 8th grade.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Qing ni fanyi ma?

Currently Reading The Opposite of Fate Amy Tan

Major pet peeve time:
I have noticed that Chinese-American authors, whom I assume haven't studied Chinese on an academic level, but picked up bits and pieces from their Chinese-speaking relatives, make up their own transliteration system, so those of us who actually speak Chinese need to translate the transliteration. Grrrrrrr.

I can understand that the author hasn't studied Chinese, so how would they know proper transliteration methods, but surely, someone in the editing department can figure it out! If not, they should hire me.

In her essay arrival banquet Amy Tan talks about her mother teaching her cousin English.

" 'Bu-shr har!" my mother says to him. 'Don't say "har." How. How, how, how--like hau, hau, hau.' Good, good, good."

Except in the pinyin system, the first word (which translates as a general negative, in this case, "no" or "wrong") is bu-shi if you want to put a Beijing accent onto it (which you don't, because Tan's mother is Shanghainese) you can write bu-shir. And good is hao.

Further on in the essay:
"Meigwo-ren... Jyou jin-shan" (American... San Francisco)

Should be Meiguo ren... jiu jin-shan and it wasn't until she directly translated the Chinese name for San Francisco as "old gold mountain" that I realized what she meant by jyou.

The Dim Sum of All Things by Kim Wong Keltner did the same thing. A lot.

I know it's stupid, but it gets to me, which is why it's a pet peeve, no?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pride and Prejudice 4-Evah

Currently Reading: The Opposite of Fate Amy Tan

So, according to the listeners of Women's Hour, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is the book that has most transformed women's lives.

Hmmmm. Now, I love P&P, even to the point where I pretentiosly abbriviate it as such, because doesn't everyone know what I'm talking about? But it didn't really transform my life. No more than Bridget Jones's Diary did. (We all know it's the same story, right?) Except for making me feel slightly more normal than I did before reading it.

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, however, did. I read it last winter and it scared me because it just feels so immenantly possible. It made me start acting up.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

In the beginning...

Currently Reading: The Opposite of Fate Amy Tan

Yep, so here's my new website to talk about the books I'm reading/have read etc. etc. Soon, there will also be a spoiler site, so there will often be links to the spoiler site where I will continue my train of thought, but give away crucial details, so I won't ruin the book for other people on this site. I'm not really going to start posting right now, just get things set up.