Dropped by the library sale on Saturday, and walked away with four, including a 2$ copy of this. (Others are Ahab’s Wife, which I’m anticipating reading in June, and a few non-fiction.) One of my students wanted to use this for their final project, but when they reminded me it was comprised of short stories, I had to refuse– but made me wonder if I’d ever really read this, or just planned to. So dipped in on Sunday morning and finished it in one long gulp.
Enjoyed it very much. It didn’t seem as earth-shattering to me, perhaps because many other books (maybe written after this? maybe this was just an excellent example– not sure of the timeline) resemble it– the buried secrets, the trials uncommunicated, the reasons for the misunderstandings. Mending of women’s relationships, particularly mother/daughter relationships, is just such a productive field. I’m thinking of Beloved, but also (in different context) YaYa Sisterhood– reconciliation porn. (That’s about YaYa, not Beloved– how could I have anything negative to say about Beloved? YaYa was very comforting to me for a time, when I was mourning a disintegrating relationship, and then I came to see that one revealed truth, if there was a core reason for the trouble, wasn’t going to erase or fix the past. It’s presented as something magic– you went through pain, and then PRESTO! new information, and all is well. Rather, a process of rebuilding and trying to see and accept without childhood pain, and keeping those boundaries high.) But anyway. Joy Luck Club. I just made a book about the lingering trauma of horrific violence and displacement and immigration about myself. So that’s awesome.
The book is four sections of short stories, told by the mothers and daughters in a Chinese-American community. Each story abuts others, but doesn’t encompass– there isn’t a “true” narrative, there are so many perspectives. Which is, perhaps, the point. Or one of.
Read this while working on my May sweater, the herringbone Aviero.