The Opposite of Fate

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 12:00am

The Opposite of Fate

by Amy Tan

Perennial $105

This is less a memoir than a collection of the author's essays, quotations, comments and recollections. Tan is self-deprecating about her work, and claims she never intended it to be as profound as students seem to think. She read the Cliffs Notes version of her life to prepare for a book reading. Overshadowing everything is the terrifying presence of her mother, who as a nine-year-old girl watched her own mother commit suicide by eating opium, and for the rest of her life was a manic depressive. When teenage Amy Tan wouldn't break up with a drug-dealing boyfriend, her mother held a meat cleaver to her throat for 20 minutes. 'Thanks to my mother, I was raised to have a morbid imagination,' Tan writes. Although some of the book is flimsy, Tan's odd life makes fascinating reading.