Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Book Thoughts

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

A modern Chinese-American woman with problems of her own just doesn't understand her mother. Mom, in turn, didn't understand her own mother. From different eras, they each reveal pieces of their stories which ultimately form a connected whole. Well-written and engaging. Better than "Oprah-lit," I'd say, but only a little better.

I wonder, though, if I'm reflecting the cultural bias against women's stories. With notable exceptions, women's stories are traditionally centered around home, children, "women's work." When they're not about such things, they're more about feelings, emotional stories of coming-to-grips with something. Men's stories, to make a huge generalization, are about things happening, reasons being given, things changing. Moby-Dick, arguably the manliest book of all time, is all about reasoning out the parts of the whale and whaling. It's about hubris and close, manly relationships. It's about Whaling and Death. It's epic. Frequently women's stories are much smaller, less grand. My ambitious self wants stories about people who make it big, people who do great things, people who change minds and hearts and are vindicated. Many women's stories are about small things. Am I undervaluing Bonesetter's Daughter because it's too small and womanly?

A friend recently forwarded me an article on the same subject. The question was, if love and home are so very important to all of us, why do we undervalue stories about them regardless of who wrote them?

1 comment:

Papa said...

Amy Tan seems to write the same book every time. Mom and daughter don't understand each other. Every chapter seems to say the same thing.