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Publisher's Summary

In Where the Past Begins, best-selling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement, Amy Tan, reveals herself in a way she never has before, delving into her childhood, adolescence, family history, beginnings as a writer, and professional life to explore the answers to questions of purpose and meaning that we all ask ourselves as we get older.

Moving from her childhood in Oakland and growing up with her Chinese parents through her success as a novelist, Amy Tan delves into her creative interests in music, the paralysis of beginning a new project, journal writing, and travelling. Where the Past Begins chronicles the making of a writer. With characteristic humor and poignant observation, Tan weaves a nontraditional introspective narrative that is as complex and vibrant as this beloved American novelist's fiction. Interspersed with direct correspondence between the author and her editor, this audiobook will give fans and critics unparalleled insight into the author's process, her thoughts on the literary enterprise, and her singularly warm, intelligent mind.

©2017 Amy Tan (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 10-27-17

Gripping Memoir

I attended a talk by Amy Tan when she was promoting her first book. I enjoyed her talk and reading that book. I put her on my list of authors to follow. Since that time, I have read all her books and make a point of attending her talks whenever she is in my area.

This book is a memoir of her life to-date. She traces her family history through photographs. Tan describes her skill of nature drawings and compares that creativity to her writing. She discusses her mother’s mental illness and its effect on her and the rest of her family. The main topic of the book is about writing and creativity. Tan discusses a collection of letters between herself and her editor, Daniel Halpern. She provides in-sights on writing. She brings out what it takes to be a professional writer. Tan is a gifted storyteller. I enjoy learning about authors and how they write.

The book is fourteen and a half hours long. Amy Tan narrated her own book. It is great to hear the author read their book.






6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Writing allowed her to tell her incredible journey

I'm left speechless. The more I read the more I understood how her life led her into becoming a writer and also the very person she is. She is one of the most fascinating authors to have read about her past history and how it's unfolding of its life played such an integral role in everyday aspects in her life all the way through to the completion of this book and the molding of it into the person she is today. I marvel over the obstacles she has overcome and not just the tough up bringing she had or the many struggles she overcame but also the many times that she faced literally several deaths scenarios in multiple forms!

Yes, it was a very long book but also very well written between her and her adoring publisher. Amy Tan does not hold back and is a top-notch wrier and deserves all the acknowledgements for how well she writes. Through her writing and other books you never know how bright she is. In this book you get a glimpse into just some of the amazing talents and small portion of how incredibly bright she truly is. I highly recommend this book to anyone. I hope you enjoy it. JH

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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And so ends my infatuation with Amy Tan's Work

There are two things to know:
I have read every Amy Tan book (including the non-fiction, Opposite of Fate) some of them twice!
And
I don't put books down. I have literally only stopped reading 5 books over the past 5 years! And one of those books was Valley of Amazement. I just couldn't do it.
So here I am, listening to her latest book, a memoir of sorts, with Amy Tan herself reading it...even she sounds bored much of the time!....and I am determined to get through this. All 14 1/2 hours. I'm pretty sure my ears were bleeding at some point, but I must have blacked out while driving!
I'm not going to dissect this, because there just wasn't anything I liked about it. But the biggest take away for me is that her mother-in real life- is a totally unlikeable person. In her writings, the mother characters were largely unlikeable..and they were usually based on her own mother...so it doesn't surprise me that I didn't like her actual mother as described in this book. But unlike Sherman Alexi who, in his recent memoir, did not try to defend his abusive and unlikeable mother, Tan not only defends, but she rationalizes and justifies all her negative and selfish actions. Tan talks about all her mother's failings, but turns around and says that it comes from her past and tries to psychologically justify the bad behaviors. Her mother was not just a bad mother - to Amy and her brother, but she also deserted her other children in China!! - she was not a good person. And while Ms Tan recognizes this, she will never acknowledge anything but filial love, devotion and admiration for this woman.
As in Valley of Amazement, Ms Tan has overthought and over written the characters in her life. Perhaps she's trying to make peace with her writing of them in her later years, but maybe she would do better looking at the present...or her own future in a fictional sense. I'm over her ancestral angst.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I couldn't get through it

I love Amy Tan's writing and I read and listen to be entertained. I was bored. She should not narrate her own books. She sounded very humdrum. Sorry Amy.

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  • jo
  • 12-08-17

Wonderful story

I enjoyed every moment of this book especially with Ms. Tan’s narration. It is a glimpse into her life, how she writes and the gifts she gives her audiences. Thank-you for the great journey!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful