January 8, Thursday evening -- Reading an anthology

In the neighborhood for a dentist appointment
Reading, and deciding if she should buy, My Story On!: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, from a book cart outside of Modern Times. In the table of contents, she spotted the story People Should Not Die In June In South Texas, by an author she likes --the great feminist, Gloria Anzaldúa, who died in 2004. Gloria Anzaldúa was one of the first openly lesbian, Chicana authors.

She (the reader not Gloria Anzaldúa) used to work at a couple of bookstores here in the Mission, that no longer exist - Manzanita and Old Wives Tales, a store that carried books by women...before they were over 50% of published authors.

A book she recommends - Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, by Aaron Lansky, about a man who did just that.

If she were to write her own book, it'd be about her Chinese American heritage. An author she recommends who has already written a lot about Chinese American heritage is Ruthanne Lum McCunn, who wrote one of her favorites--Thousand Pieces of Gold.

I told her how I'd just finished reading The Bonesetter's Daughter, by Amy Tan and she said that she'd just seen the opera, standing in the back row. If you buy a standing ticket it's only $10!

Apparently Amy Tan worked closely with the director in putting together the opera. It is a beautiful story about three generations of women--a Chinese American daughter and her mother who is having memory problems and records her life history and the secrets of her mother in a Chinese manuscript, that the daughter, eventually, as her mother's memory continues to unravel, has translated, thereby bringing them closer together. A scene from the book that I found particularly touching was when the daughter goes to meet her beau at Bruno's, a jazz club in the Mission, and, while killing a few minutes, goes to Modern Times bookstore to rescue some books from the sale rack ....just what this reader was doing when I met her, at Modern Times, just a few blocks from Brunos! A beautiful coincidence. I wonder if that scene was included in the opera? -- probably not, for lack of drama. Saving books is, unfortunately, unless you're a Yiddish scholar after a million of them, thought by most to be trivial. But, oh, the scene touched me just as deeply as when the senile old mother falls in love. --Is it more powerful to love people, or to love ideas?


Heather J. said...

I just read (and reviewed) Outwitting History! It was a fascinating book - I highly recommend it.

Ms. B. said...

Don't we love people because of the ideas they give us?