As I logged in to my school e-mail account on Thursday morning I was greeted with a message subject of "SEE ME ASAP". This message was from Michelle, one of our media center specialists. Apparently the Moore Public Schools Foundation had sponsored a table for a brunch with Amy Tan and they were providing tickets for some of the teachers at Southmoore who had participated in our faculty book study of Tan's The Joy Luck Club. My name had been drawn from "the hat" and I immediately said YES.
So, this morning at 10:30 I joined two other Southmoore teachers and one of our students, along with several hundred other guests. We dined on a lovely brunch of puff pastry, mandarian orange & almond salad, spinach quiche, and fruit in creme along with coffee and white grape juice.
Of course the highlight of the morning was a presentation by best selling author Amy Tan. Tan spoke about her experiences in writing. She read for us her very first published piece: a short essay she wrote in 3rd grade for a competition on why the library is important to you--she won 1st prize. Tan also shared that much of her inspiration for The Joy Luck Club, while still a work of fiction, came from the experiences of her mother's and grandmother's lives. She read a passage from her memoir, The Opposite of Fate, which displayed an example of her mother's broken English. This example served to show why Tan has often struggled, especially earlier within her writing, to write with proper grammar in that she heard one thing at school and another at home. The inspiration for characters in most of her books is routed within some aspect of the life experiences of her family and friends. Her newest novel to be released soon is also based on a photograph she found of her grandmother in an outfit which appears to be traditional for a courtesan.
It was a both a matter of luck and an experience of joy to be able to attend this brunch today. Tan is one of the best examples of a writer who seeks to explore and make sense of the experiences of culture within one country through the prism of cultural perspective within another. I am excited to read more about her life (each guest received a copy of The Opposite of Fate) and her other works. It is through the literature and perspectives of authors like Amy Tan that most people find the opportunity to roam the roads of lands remote even if their physical journey may never or rarely leave home.