What cultural innovation could be more appalling than torture?
It is an ugliness, which means excellence only makes it uglier.
Waverly narrates, “I thought it was a trick question; I was seven according to the American formula and eight by the Chinese calendar.” She has a solution, of course: “I said I was born on March 17, 1951.
That seemed to satisfy him.” But Waverly veers toward American behavior as she pursues chess.
The story is about Waverly Jong, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, as she ascends to the highest levels of competitive chess by age nine.
It has a number of superficial pleasures, and this was what drew me in initially.I’m always on the lookout for authors I can love and teach who are not white, not male, and this is how I came to Amy Tan, who is, of course, neither.“Rules of the Game,” from Tan’s debut book of connected stories, , is widely anthologized, often by editors who share my demographic shame—white males, in other words, who are sensitive about promoting authors other than white males.She doesn’t even let her characters fully recognize them.In fact, she never once uses the word “culture.” Instead, she embeds these ideas in the details—description, action, characterization—a narrative technique originally developed by realists such as Flaubert, whose goal was to be “present everywhere and visible nowhere” in his stories. We apologize for any inconvenience, and thank you for your visiting. I feel guilty but helpless about how those facts might influence my reading preferences, especially since I’ve been charged with introducing college students to literature.It should evoke anything but pride, and that’s why the mother’s prideful response is so funny.It shows how radically loyal she is to her Chinese heritage and how quick she is to criticize Americans, no matter what the topic.Tan has her approach the game in a classically American fashion, the result of which is a classic American success story.First Waverly watches her brothers play, then begs them to teach her, and then takes more extreme measures to improve, studying fundamental strategies in library books, looking up words she doesn’t know, even drawing a chessboard and staring at it for hours.