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Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir
Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir | Amy Tan
FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR AMY TAN, A MEMOIR ON HER LIFE AS A WRITER, HER CHILDHOOD, AND THE SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FICTION AND EMOTIONAL MEMORYIn Where the Past Begins, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan is at her most intimate in revealing the truths and inspirations that underlie her extraordinary fiction. By delving into vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals, and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother, she gives evidence to all that made it both unlikely and inevitable that she would become a writer. Through spontaneous storytelling, she shows how a fluid fictional state of mind unleashed near-forgotten memories that became the emotional nucleus of her novels. Tan explores shocking truths uncovered by family memorabilia--the real reason behind an IQ test she took at age six, why her parents lied about their education, mysteries surrounding her maternal grandmother--and, for the first time publicly, writes about her complex relationship with her father, who died when she was fifteen. Supplied with candor and characteristic humor, Where the Past Begins takes readers into the idiosyncratic workings of her writer's mind, a journey that explores memory, imagination, and truth, with fiction serving as both her divining rod and link to meaning.
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LauraBeth
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We took a drive today and stumbled upon a used bookstore. $5 for 5 books!

Suet624 Awesome! For some reason I assumed you‘d read Fates and Furies already. 3w
TrishB Bargain 👍🏻 3w
LauraBeth @Suet624 F&F is one of my all-time favorites! I bought this copy to give to someone! 😀 3w
See All 14 Comments
LauraBeth @TrishB that‘s what i thought too! 😀 3w
Suet624 Ahhh... a great gift. 3w
emilyhaldi Wow great haul!!! I was about to tell you how much I love F&F and then saw the comments about 😂 glad we‘re in the same boat! 3w
MEGR LOVED Fates and Furies! 2w
Tanisha_A WhatAMoment! 🎈🙂 2w
LeahBergen Awesome! 👏🏻👏🏻 2w
LauraBeth @emilyhaldi and @MEGR Lauren Groff may be my favorite living writer. 2w
LauraBeth @Tanisha_A I love a deal! 😀 2w
LauraBeth @Redwritinghood It‘s been a while since I‘ve had an inexpensive book haul! 😆 2w
110 likes14 comments
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TK-421
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“Memory...gives you no choice over which moments you can erase, and it is annoyingly persistent in retaining the most painful ones. It is extraordinarily faithful in recording the most hideous details, and it will recall them for you in the future with moments that are even only vaguely similar.” So true! #Memory is a mixed blessing when the mind forces you to relive past pains & humiliations over & over. #QuotsyAug19

review
JSW
Pickpick

The writing is excellent - evocative, poignant, reflective, dry, and honest. Tan writes about being a writer as well as family history. I liked that it wasn‘t chronological “this happened, then this, then this.” It‘s more deep thinking in different directions.

17 likes1 stack add
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erzascarletbookgasm
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You go, Amy Tan! Great idea! Anyone tried this? Want to give a try?

Jee_HookedOnBookz What a great idea! 9mo
Leftcoastzen Wow! 9mo
Avanders 😲😲 9mo
See All 15 Comments
Soubhiville That is smart! 9mo
DeleteAcct It would have to be one heck of a good book! 😂 9mo
Tanisha_A The awesome Amy Tan! 9mo
ReadosaurusText Mind blown. Totally genius! 9mo
BooknerdsLife Love Amy Tan!! 💖🤗 And this is such a great idea! Thank you so much for posting this 😍💓 9mo
Cathythoughts What !!! 😀. I‘m off to the gym shortly ... 🤔I don‘t think I‘ll chance it , they would think I was completely mad. Love this ♥️👍🏻 9mo
ju.ca.no I need to try this😱 @maralinchen look, this might work for us😂 9mo
Kaye HELP ! I‘VE FALLEN AND I CANT GET UP. This gives me the hives thinking about it. I‘m not limber enough to get up if I got down there to start with. 9mo
sisilia Wow! I shall try this 9mo
erzascarletbookgasm @Kaye 😂 🙌 I can probably get down to this position with a few groans, but I certainly can‘t hold a ‘plank‘ even for two seconds! 9mo
britt_brooke Omg, I usually last about 30 seconds. 😆 9mo
Bookladylinda Wow!!!! So cool! 9mo
106 likes15 comments
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Butterflyamore
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Susanita
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Ladies and gentlemen, I have my volunteer assignment! I will be an usher for the main stage 1:00 to closing. Looks like a great lineup of speakers! Also, the app is super helpful.

#NationalBookFestival

5280reader Love Doris! Hope you have a great time! 1y
39 likes1 comment
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Amy_Yuki_Vickers
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Pickpick

Amy Tan has an odd mix of analytical and whimsy in her writing. She snatches a lot of physical details out of the air and presents them as something that supports a point that is never quite clear to me. It is like wandering around in a magnificent hedge maze, where I‘m completely lost, but totally enthralled.

For full review: http://www.amyyuki.com/books/2018/08/19/where-the-past-begins-a-writers-memoir-b...

tpixie Well said! I felt the same way with this book! 1y
Amy_Yuki_Vickers @tpixie Thank you. I'm glad to know that I'm not alone. 1y
3 likes2 comments
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MellieAntoinette
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Writer‘s Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿! Let‘s go, right!!!

Reecaspieces Oh my! How gorgeous 2y
BlameJennyJane That‘s one of the most beautiful buildings I‘ve ever seen! 2y
MellieAntoinette @Reecaspieces @BlameJennyJane makes you just wish for a trip to Scotland, right! 2y
CouronneDhiver 😍😍😍 2y
tracey38 Beautiful building! 2y
27 likes5 comments
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bunny
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I went into this book unsure of how much I would end up liking it, and it did take me a chapter or so to really get into. At this point it‘s so compelling that I can hardly put it down, even though the events that are covered are sometimes hard to read about. It also makes me want to seek out more of Amy Tan‘s books! I‘ve only ever read The Joy Luck Club.

tpixie Im just starting it. It does start slow so I‘m glad to hear it gets better as it goes on. I was thinking about stopping. But I‘m going to the national book Festival in Washington DC Labor Day weekend and she‘s going to be there so I‘d like to read something of hers. I have never read her before. 1y
bunny @tpixie I definitely found myself enjoying it more as I went on, and I hope the same thing happens for you! 1y
tpixie Thx!! 1y
12 likes3 comments
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peacegypsy
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So excited to find this in a used book store today! I heard her speak many years ago, and I‘m hoping this is as much a delight as that was. ❤️

britt_brooke I have this but haven‘t read it yet. Curious to see what you think! 2y
peacegypsy @britt_brooke I‘m curious, too! Maybe we could read it together. 😊 2y
britt_brooke @peacegypsy Let me know whenever you decide to crack it open and I might join you. 👍🏻 2y
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peacegypsy @britt_brooke awesome! 👍😎 2y
mrozzz Lucky find! This is a good one. 2y
Joyfulmimi It is! Loved it @mrozzz 2y
41 likes1 stack add6 comments
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Joyfulmimi
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Pickpick

Thank you, Amy Tan! Your memoir was perfect for me in all ways that I can find a book to perfect. I resonated deeply with almost every heartfelt message of yours, including, “the loneliness of never fully sharing the truth of who I am because I have not yet found it...” I learned lots about different things that I did not know, like “caving”. You gave me a new perspective on my life. have cherished the time with you. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kaye Isn‘t she pretty ? I think the only one of hers I‘ve read was ... very good book ! 2y
Joyfulmimi @Kaye I highly recommend 2y
Kaye Thanks @Joyfulmimi I do need to read that. Another one I‘ve wanted to get to for years ! Thanks for the reminder. 😊 2y
34 likes4 stack adds3 comments
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Joyfulmimi
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Memory gives you no choice over which moments you can erase, and it is annoyingly persistent in retaining the most painful ones.

revenge4porgy Too true 😱 2y
39 likes1 comment
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Joyfulmimi
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In reading this, for me, its like spending a wonderful time with a great friend.

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kdwinchester
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Pickpick

I loved the behind-the-scenes look into Tan's writing process. But I feel that because I haven't read more of her work, especially her most recent novel THE VALLEY OF AMAZEMENT, I missed out on a lot of the book's depth. While I enjoyed this nontraditional memoir, I would recommend reading some of her novels first. But rest assured, hardcore fans will adore all of the insights included in WHERE THE PAST BEGINS.

JaclynW I am so curious to read this! I've read 2 of her books, but not the most recent. Does it mostly focus on 2y
JaclynW Amazon has a $1.99 ebook deal currently on 2y
Sophoclessweetheart This looks so good. And signed! I love Amy Tan x 2y
kdwinchester @JaclynW It focuses mainly on THE KITCHEN GOD‘S WIFE and THE VALLEY PF AMAZEMENT. Though, she does discuss her other books some as well. Great insight into her writing process. 2y
JaclynW @kdwinchester Good to know. I will have to pick those up! 2y
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IndianaRed
Mehso-so

Forgive me. I had no idea who Amy Tan was prior to my book club choosing it. Apparently they are big fans.

I found it boring, particularly in the beginning & end when she's going into detail about her writing technique or emailing her editor.

BUT, the entire middle is dedicated to revealing her fasinating family history. Her grandmother's suicide. Her mother's mental illness. Fasinating enough to want to purchase a copy of The Joy Luck Club

MelAnn I love Joy Luck Club! 2y
IndianaRed @MelAnn I hear it's wonderful. I'm definitely looking forward to reading it. Having read her memoir I might even have some better insite! :) 2y
Joyfulmimi I highly recommend its one of my favorite books! 2y
4 likes1 stack add4 comments
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alysonwrites
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Whew! I thought I was the only one! 😅 Really excited to be reading this fascinating peek into Amy Tan‘s creative mind. There‘s great reassurance in being reminded that even the best writers struggle.

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charl08
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My newspaper changed the format of the book reviews. Not sure if I like it.

BarbaraBB I‘d go immediately to page 5! 2y
28 likes1 comment
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mhillis
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Amy Tan is an #autoreadauthor for me and I‘m #currentlyreading Where the Past Begins: A Writer‘s Memoir. I‘ve been following her Facebook page where she sometimes posts her bird sketches. I was happy to see this drawing in Chapter One!

PenguinInFlight I love her! She‘s an autoread author for me, as well. Her sketches are gorgeous! ☺️ 2y
Blaire I love her too and want to read this memoir. 2y
76 likes1 stack add2 comments
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RobinGustafson
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Couldn‘t resist one final book haul of 2017. I‘m a big Amy Tan and Alice McDermott fan. This will be my introduction to Claire Messud. #booksbywomen

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britt_brooke
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The Amy Tan is a signed first edition, you guys! @kspenmoll This is amazing. Thank you ❣️❣️#secretsantagoespostal #wintersolsticebookexchange

Melissa_J Sweet! 2y
Hollie Awesome 👏🏻 2y
Cinfhen 🙌🏻 2y
See All 11 Comments
brilliantglow Wow! That's awesome😍😍 2y
MrBook Whooaa! 😁👏🏻 2y
BookAlongBlog 😍 really want to read this! 2y
kspenmoll ❤️❤️❤️ you are welcome! 2y
britt_brooke @Book.Along It sounds really good! 2y
dragondrool Mine is, too. Snagged it online at Barnes and Noble. I love all the little bird drawings she's been posting on Facebook. 2y
168 likes11 comments
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mrozzz
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Pickpick

What is there to say? Amy Tan is such an insightful person and a fabulous author. Whether she's talking about about the fugue state she enters when writing a new novel or retracing the supposed story of her mother's mother.

For me it was a bit hard to follow on audio because the sections were so long, but also allowed me to delve properly into her life as she emotionally narrates.

Joyfulmimi I can‘t wait to read this. I loved her first memoir. 2y
mrozzz I haven't read it! @Joyfulmimi I should look it up, thanks 😊 2y
Joyfulmimi Indeed! One of my favorites. @mrozzz 2y
mhillis I can‘t wait for my hold to come through! I love Amy Tan too 2y
mrozzz @mhillis 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻 hope you get it soon ☺️ 2y
93 likes2 stack adds5 comments
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mrozzz
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Wandered into Amsterdam Billiards in Manhattan to sink some balls while in my own world, Amy Tan recounting her life and best writing advice into my ears.

BarbaraBB You‘re playing solo? Great to have an audio book then as well! 2y
MrBook Awesome! 👌🏻 2y
mrozzz @BarbaraBB yes! Don't even have my cues or glove with me but doing alright with a house cue. It's fun to see how quickly I can shoot a rack by myself and it's definitely a good time to get ahead on my audiobook 2y
mrozzz @MrBook sure is!! Haven't been in awhile. 2y
BarbaraBB Very cool! 2y
78 likes5 comments
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Bourriquet76
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My aunt gets me, belated birthday mail. 💕

TricksyTails Welcome to Litsy!! Happy to have you join this wonderful bookish family! 😊#LitsyWelcomeWagon (edited) 2y
RaimeyGallant Welcome to Litsy! P.S. Here's a compilation of Litsy tips that some of us put together:
http://litsy.com/p/aDJja2lMZFFY
2y
7 likes2 comments
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GerardtheBookworm
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Pickpick

Part autobiograhy, part essay, and a philosophy of the writing process, author Any Tan weaves personal stories and insights that inspired and influenced her to write The Joy Luck Club. Whether it is the cultural traditions of the time, her mother's struggles with mental illness or the tragic death of her father and brother, Amy paints a moving portrait of herself and her family.

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BethFishReads
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Pickpick

I really liked this kind of unstructured look at the life of a writer, a 1st-generation American, a survivor . . . 🎧 She does a good-enough job as narrator. You can tell she‘s not a professional, but it doesn‘t matter much in this context. The photo has nothing to do w/ the book, but *shrug*

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BooksForEmpathy
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I‘m almost done with this book on audio - Amy Tan reads it herself so how could I resist?

This collection is so eloquently written and her vulnerability is striking, as is her most curious mind. There is a familiarity in the way she writes and what she chooses to write about that resonates deeply with me. When I heard her speak she said, “I like the way I am! Stay disturbed!” and I also tend to agree; I like the weird, inner-workings of my mind.

emilyhaldi Love this 2y
UwannaPublishme Great review! Gotta get this! 😊👍🏻 2y
Blaire Sounds wonderful! 2y
ferskner I've had such a craving for roasted corn all week, and then you post this! 2y
113 likes6 stack adds4 comments
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BooksForEmpathy
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Seeing Amy Tan tonight. Swoon. Big time 💕.

mrozzz 😍😍😍👏🏻🙌🏻👍🏻 2y
BarbaraTheBibliophage Enjoy! I'll just sit over here and feel envious. 👏🏻👏🏻 2y
Lcsmcat I hope you had a great time! 2y
Skygoddess1 Wonderful writer and speaker. Can‘t wait to hear what you thought of the talk and what you think of her new book 2y
118 likes3 stack adds4 comments
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MrBook
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#TBRtemptation post 3! An intimate memoir from an important author on how she became an unlikely and inevitable writer. Tan delves into her traumatic childhood, her self-doubting journal entries, and heartbreaking letters with her mother. She discusses her parents' lies regarding their backgrounds and family histories, and she relates, publicly for the first time, her complex relationship with her father. #blameLitsy #blameMrBook 😎

78 likes9 stack adds
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bookandcat
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@thereadingwomen here is my entry for your #thereadingwomen #readathon mini-challenge!
Amy Tan is an incredible woman and her writing works are stellar. I treat her books like I treat my game of Pokemon - I gotta catch em all! (Even her new memoir released this week!)

23 likes1 stack add
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spinesvines
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Without a doubt my local independent bookstore, Politics and Prose, delivers the best events! What an amazing night with Amy Tan! I can't wait to read her latest memoir? Has anyone read this one yet??

#spinesvines #books #wine #toread #wherethepastbegins #amytan

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bookshopsc
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Pickpick

The first thing you‘ll notice is the writing. The second will be the almost casual references to her incredible family history & personal tragedy. You‘ll be drawn in by the insight of one of our greatest living writers. Orbiting an emotional core, this collage of poetic thoughts & essays on art & language are intermingled with chapters of Tan‘s heart-breaking real-life, creating a unique memoir that I can‘t stop thinking about. - Jocelyn

57 likes8 stack adds
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BookishClaire
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Amy Tan speaks about 3 influential books in this month's Elle Mag.

TheLudicReader I think Jane Eyre influenced a lot of young women. I am currently re-reading it for the first time in 40+ years. 2y
23 likes1 comment
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johnnie_cakes

The Kitchen God‘s Wife and The Joy Luck Club are 2 of my all-time favorite books. Tan‘s last few novels have been underwhelming, and after reading the first 40 pages of this it makes sense. She‘s really playing heavy on the tortured artist stereotype.

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Liberty
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I love Amy Tan's writing and I can't wait for everyone to get their hands on this! The finished copies are SHINY. (Both literally and in the Firefly sense of the word.) ❤️📚❤️

kspenmoll Nice photo! 2y
Clwojick Is that scrapbook paper?! I NEED that paper. 😬😬😬 2y
Liberty @kspenmoll Thanks! 2y
Liberty @Clwojick It is! 2y
Lisaw13 Thank you for making a Firefly reference! 🤗 2y
138 likes19 stack adds5 comments
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shawnmooney
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A new memoir coming out in mid-October.

vivastory Just curious, what would be the title for Shawn Mooney's memoir? 2y
shawnmooney @vivastory ????"Let the bailing begin!" ??? 2y
vivastory 😂😂😂 Perfect! 2y
60 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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BethwithBooks
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Amy Tan!!

Reviewsbylola 😍😍 3y
MrBook That's awesome!!! 3y
21 likes2 comments