Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- Amy Tan's List

[published in Terre Haute Tribune Star, Oct. 16, 2006]

Everyone today seems to be into lists — best, worst, to do, to avoid, and all the possibilities that fall between the cracks of these old standbys.

Well, here comes Amy Tan to town. She will be on ISU’s campus tonight, Tilson Music Hall, 7 p.m. And does she have a list for you. This is a list that can change your life, change your relationships with people, change your attitude about yourself, even change this country and the world — you know the standard stuff promised in those piles of self-help books that fill bookstore shelves and best seller, uh, lists.

Only Amy Tan’s list is the real thing.

Before revealing this gold-plated, can’t miss, can’t really live a full life without it list, here’s the Terre Haute Tan connection.

Amy Tan’s novel, “The Joy Luck Club,” is the “If All of Vigo County Read the Same Book” selection for 2006. This book is also the Indiana State University Summer Reading Program selection for first year ISU students. The Vigo County Public Library has been promoting the reading of this book through programs and discussions all year. If you haven’t read it as yet, you’re in for a treat.


Now back to the Amy Tan list. (Cut this out and put it on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator door. Review it daily.)

In an essay she titles “five writing tips,” (you can find the essay in her wonderful collection “The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life”) Amy Tan offers these guides to not just writing better prose, but for “thinking about your life and the world around you”:

--avoid cliches;

--avoid generalizations;

--find your own voice;

--show compassion;

--ask important questions;

In the heat of this political season, don’t you wish every politician would live and act by the dictates and spirit of this list? But politicians’ must-get-elected mirrors are filled with poll numbers; politicians’ refrigerator doors are shingled with canned responses to so-called “hot button issues.”

“Find your own voice”!! — we all should live to see the day.

It remains up to voters to take Amy Tan’s list seriously — and to read, enjoy and learn from her funny and wise writings. Don’t miss hearing her speak. She’s a person who lives the list she sings about.

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