[私人藏书][译文]人生奇诡胜小说(谭恩美访谈)

楼主:pc817 时间:2005-06-24 09:59:00 点击:1009 回复:8
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人生奇诡胜小说
  作者:Helena de Bertodano
  翻译:pc817
  
   16岁那年,谭恩美觉得她的母亲要“杀死”她。在新书《命运的反面》里,她描述了事情的经过:在她和母亲为了她新交的男友发生了激烈争吵后,“(我母亲)狠狠地摔上门,栓好,并用钥匙锁上。她把我推到墙边时,举着切肉刀,就在那时,我看见了刀光一闪,刀锋距离我的喉咙只有一英寸。她双眼像野兽一样放光,凝视着死亡……她把刀刃向我喉咙移近了些,我甚至能感她呼出的粗气。”
   谭恩美出生很有意思,至少,在她的小说里写进了大量她母亲或祖母的过去,特别是在《喜福会》和《厨神的妻子》里。前者在畅销书排行榜里至少停留了一年,并被拍成了一部很成功的好莱坞影片。不过这次是她第一次写自传。
   “这不是常规的自传,”当我们在纽约,她的SOHO工作室里与她会面时,她说,“而更像是我生活中的沉思集。”阅读它,你会发现她的座右铭是“真实比虚构更怪异”。谭恩美说她想过把她生活中的某些方面写成小说,但最后认为这不起作用。“人生在很多方面是不可思议的,甚至比小说更加不可能。你不得不把它写成自传。”
   谭恩美,51岁,说一口软软的美国西海岸英语,在加利弗尼亚长大,现在她一半时间住在旧金山,一半时间生活在纽约。她有迷人的笑声,听上去比书本里的她更友好,在她的书里,她常常抱怨那些称她为作家的人,“作家,是一个比僵硬的尸体更让人感觉寒冷的词”(她宁愿别人称她为作者),书里有一章名为“个人勘误表”,其中列举了人们对有关她生活的误解。
  

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楼主pc817 时间:2005-06-24 10:17:22
   都快疯掉了,为什么后面的就发不上来了呢?
楼主pc817 时间:2005-06-24 10:24:32
   我问她写作时涉及个人问题是不是很难。“我写作的时候,尽量不去考虑读者。我把读者看成是我最亲密的部分,看作是我的母亲和我的编辑,而不去想他们是陌生人或批评者。我没有写过什么令人害羞的事。我是说,我没有描写过我生活中的性场面。”谈到这个时,她吃吃地笑了。
   然而,在写她母亲威胁要杀死她时一定还是很难的。“是的,”她说,这样说时,她的眼睛里蒙上了一层雾水。
   在那个记忆深刻的场景里,她被钉在墙上足有20分钟,刀锋压在她喉咙上。最后,她垮下来,哭泣着求母亲:“我想活下去,我想活下去。”她母亲把切肉刀从她脖子上拿开,两人从此都不再提这件事情,直到两年前她母亲去世。
   在她的新书里,谭恩美详细叙述了一天,她母亲,在阿尔采莫氏病的后期,打电话给她,“她说起话来有点歇斯底里,‘我知道我伤害了你……我做了可怕的事情。但现在我记不得做过什么了……我只想告诉你……我希望你能忘记,就像我已经忘记了一样。’我试着笑起来,这样她不会注意到我声音中的沙哑了。‘真的,别多想了。’”
   “听到那些,心里真是舒服多了,”谭恩美说。“所有那些未能说出口的东西一下就医好了。”现在她对母亲当时的行为有了很大的了解与同情。那时母亲带着她搬到了瑞士,而弟弟在她父亲和哥哥死后不久也死了,都是死于脑癌,彼此间隔不过几个月。“谁能不崩溃?一个儿子和丈夫先后死亡相隔不到7个月。你身处在一个陌生的国家,不能享受当地的福利制度,不会说当地的语言,孩子们不听你的话,一切看起来好象受到诅咒。眼睁睁看着你的女儿要毁了她自己的生活,离家出走,变成吸毒者,跟一个疯狂的男人怀孕,为什么你不能说该结束了?我现在可以理解母亲当时的心情。”
   谭恩美自己经过选择后,没有要孩子。“有许多要考虑的事,第一就是我害怕自己变成我母亲那样的人:对子女的过分保护,永远为子女担心……部分原因是自私。我想要有自己的职业。我母亲的教育让我觉得自己能养活自己,如果哪天婚姻不存在了,我可以有绝对的自由离开。我们谈论过要孩子的事,我对我丈夫说,’如果你愿意承担起主要照顾责任,那我才愿意生小孩。’但是我们都不想扮演那个角色。”
   过去她说小说就是她的子女。“我身上那些我想延续下去的东西都已经在我的书里了。”但是小说主要都是根据她中国祖先的生活创作的,特别是她外祖母的生活:遭人强奸,被逼为妾,生了个儿子,吞粗鸦片自杀。她女儿——谭恩美的母亲,戴西,那时候才9岁,亲眼见到自己的母亲死去。这给戴西留下了终生想自杀的冲动。
   “这种伤痛从一个母亲传到她的女儿,然后再传给下一代,”谭恩美说,“我外祖母自杀,我母亲自杀,她们将这种绝望传给了我。”
   六岁那年,谭恩美划伤了手腕,但她说并没有感觉到自杀的原由。“这种遗传是宿命的,除非你知道它是如何保留下来的。了解那种宿命感,并写下来,我感到我已经打破这种宿命了。我觉得我与我的外祖母完全不同,我没见过她,但是明白她为什么要这样做,理解了她沉默的愤怒和绝望后,我对她说:现在我们可以对话了,我们可以讨论这些问题了。”
   难道她感到对外祖母有一种责任吗?“是的,是的,我是她的见证人。”
   她觉得对自己母亲也有一种义务,如果不去想她们之间反复无常关系的,母亲还是她最亲近的人。她母亲要谭恩美写写她的故事,这对她而言是一个任务——仿佛一件罩着一层薄沙的时装——她写了《厨神的妻子》。“这是我母亲的真实生活。对我而言,非常特殊,她告诉我她的故事,并同意我写出来,然后,用我写下来的方式,又能给回报给她。”
   谭恩美后来知道她母亲十多岁时就结婚了,丈夫常常辱骂责打她,两人共生有5个孩子,其中两个死掉了。母亲为孩子的死责怪丈夫,并逃离了丈夫。另外三个女儿,从4岁到11岁,都活下来了,但她丈夫不让她们相见。在解※※放前5天,母亲离开中国来到加利福尼亚,在那里,她嫁给了约翰·谭,一个祖籍北京的电器工程师(后来成了浸信会牧师)。夫妻俩又生了三个孩子,包括谭恩美,在与母亲的另一场争吵中,谭恩美知道了同母异父姐姐们的存在。
   “当我第一次听说她们时,我感到很恐惧,因为我想到我母亲说的‘你可能被取代。实际上我还有三个女儿,她们就在后面等着呢,她们能说中文,她们都乐于服从我’......而我也想,如果她离开这个家庭,她就可以离开我们。”1987年,谭恩美和母亲第一次回中国,见到了她同母异父的姐姐,母女分离已经三十个年头了,“直到那时候,在我母亲印象中,她们才成了老太太。”谭和姐姐们交上了朋友,后来,两个姐姐还来到美国定居了。
   她母亲十多年前去世了,我问谭在那以后,她的生活有什么变化没有。“很可笑:并没什么变化。我经常觉得她还在那儿。这种可笑的小事情发生过很多次。如,当我要拿什么东西,却忘了是什么时,我会说‘我忘了什么呢?’它就会落在我眼前,‘哦,我的药,谢谢妈。’”
   纵观谭恩美的一生,她对奇怪的事件和近乎灾难有一种磁力。“我在积累这些事故、袭击和不可抗拒的一些事情。”她在《命运的反面》一书里说到。
   随便说几件吧:她坐的车与别的车相撞、在枪口下遭打劫、差一点被人强奸、几乎淹死、去警察局里辨认最好朋友、也是她室友的尸体,她被闯入的强盗折磨并杀害了(巧的是谭恩美那个晚上没有住在公寓里);受到死亡威胁,几乎被泥石流冲走。“有时我会想,我运气实在太坏了,但想到这个问题时,我会这样想‘有多少人可以经历这些糟糕的事情,如果他们从来没有碰到过这些事情的话?’这样看,我的运气一定是好得让人难以置信了。”
   实际上,在另一场不幸中,她患了莱姆病,病的起因是被鹿扁虱咬了,结果导致神经损伤,好几个月都无法写作,但她还是慢慢地恢复过来了。
   谭恩美又开始写作了,她的下一部小说即将结束,明年将会出版。我问她,如果她过的是一种平常的生活,她是否会成为一名作家。“我认为一个孩子或少年,如果生活伤痕累累,这会让他以一种不同的眼光去看待生活。他会超越‘天为什么是蓝的呢?’这样的问题,他会问‘她为什么是我母亲呢?’他游离在自己的生活之外,是个异类;像简爱那样,被人误解,一直在寻觅真我的道路上行走。”
   那么到底她有没有发现真正的谭恩美呢?“有那么一刻,我发现了。真我是感恩的,满足的,快乐的。我感到我包围在幸运之中。我要用所有我写的书来继续寻觅我的真我。”
  
作者:雁也过 时间:2005-06-24 11:16:55
  很好,祝贺一下:)
楼主pc817 时间:2005-06-24 11:29:43
  谢谢,其实有几段话还是没贴上来,不过不太影响全文,都是细节描述,就算了。
作者:洋葱先生 时间:2005-06-24 14:04:38
  很好,祝贺一下:)
  
作者:cuican2004 时间:2005-06-24 14:16:46
  板凳
作者:victor714 时间:2005-07-12 11:53:50
  祝贺!
作者:Montu 时间:2005-07-12 11:56:18
  A life stranger than fiction
  (Filed: 11/11/2003)
  
  First Amy Tan's grandmother committed suicide, then her mother tried to murder her. The author tells Helena de Bertodano why her memoirs are more lurid than her novels
  
  
  
  At the age of 16, Amy Tan thought she was going to be murdered - by her own mother. In her new book, The Opposite of Fate, Tan describes what happened after a ferocious argument with her over Tan's new boyfriend. "[My mother] slammed the door shut, latched it, then locked it with a key. I saw the flash of a meat cleaver just before she pushed me to the wall and brought the blade's edge to within an inch of my throat. Her eyes were like a wild animal's, shiny, fixated on the kill. . . She pressed the blade closer and I could feel her breath gusting."
  
  
  Joy Luck Lady: Amy Tan
  
  Amy Tan's family background is colourful, to say the least, and Tan has drawn heavily on her mother's and grandmother's past in writing her fiction, particularly in The Joy Luck Club - which stayed in the bestseller lists for nearly a year and was made into a successful Hollywood film - and The Kitchen God's Wife. But this is the first time she has written autobiographically.
  
  "It is not a conventional autobiography," says Tan when we meet at her loft apartment in SoHo, New York, "but more a collection of meditations on my life." Reading it, one discovers that she is living proof of the maxim that truth is stranger than fiction. Tan says she had contemplated turning certain aspects of her life into a novel but decided it wouldn't work. "It was just so ridiculous in many ways that it seemed improbable as fiction. It had to be written as autobiography."
  
  Tan, 51, speaks in a soft voice with a West-Coast American accent. She grew up in California and now divides her time between San Francisco and New York. She has an engaging giggle and is far more friendly than she sounds in her book, in which she rails against people who call her an author, "a word as chilling as rigor mortis" (Tan prefers to be known as a writer), and has a chapter entitled Persona Errata, listing all the mistakes people make about her life.
  
  She is wearing a long black Issey Miyake robe, a blue-and-green panelled floor-length skirt and flat black pumps with a blue silk purse around her neck. Her black hair hangs straight past her shoulders. She perches on a small chair covered in jade green and mustard yellow velvet, but does not remain still for an instant. Her graceful hands, the nails painted a rose-gold colour, are constantly gesticulating or stroking the tiny Yorkshire terriers, Bubba and Lilliput, that jump up on to her knees.
  
  Photographs of her dogs crowd the mantelpiece and there is one of a smiling white-bearded man I assume to be her husband, Lou DeMattei, a tax accountant, whom she married in 1974 at the age of 22.
  
  Tan blends perfectly into her apartment, which is the antithesis of the usual minimalism expected of SoHo lofts. It could scarcely look more exotic. Temple pillar rugs hang from the walls, Miao textiles are draped everywhere, a bed is enclosed in a tent made from French antique textiles with a Moroccan bedspread thrown over it. Silk flowers fill vases and a tree spreads its branches over a grand piano. A huge television screen, which takes up most of one wall, has crimson brocade curtains hanging over it, creating the illusion of a stage.
  
  Tan works in a small office, its walls painted rose, with Chinese prayer sheets overhanging the entrance. Underneath the 19th-century Chinese desk is a leopard-print dog basket. Learned tomes, such as Ritual Divination and History in a Pictorial Aztec Manuscript, are interspersed with more mundane books, such as First Aid for Dogs and Cats. She does some of her writing here, although most is done in San Francisco, where she has her main home.
  
  I ask her whether it was difficult to write about such personal issues. "When I write I try not to think of the reader. I think of my reader as a very intimate part of me and my mother and my editor and not really a stranger or critic. I haven't written anything that shameful. I mean, I haven't written sex scenes of my life." She chuckles at the thought.
  
  Still, it must have been hard writing about the time her mother threatened to kill her. "Yes," she says, her eyes misting over.
  
  In that vividly depicted scene, Amy was pinned against the wall for 20 minutes, the blade pressed to her throat. Eventually she broke down and cried, pleading: "I want to live, I want to live." Her mother took the meat cleaver away from her throat and neither of them mentioned the incident again, until just before her mother died two years ago.
  
  In her new book, Tan recounts that one day her mother, in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's, telephoned her. "She spoke frantically. 'I know I did something to hurt you . . . I did terrible things. But now I can't remember what . . . And I just want to tell you . . . I hope you can forget, just as I've forgotten.' I tried to laugh so she would not notice the cracks in my voice. 'Really, don't worry.' "
  
  "Hearing that was so healing," says Tan now. "Everything unspoken was just instantly healed." Now she has great sympathy for her mother's behaviour. She had moved to Switzerland with Amy and her younger brother following the deaths of Amy's father and older brother, who both died of brain tumours within months of each other. "Who wouldn't crack? A son and a husband had died seven months apart. You're in a strange country with no support system, you don't speak the language, your kids are out of control, it seems like you're cursed anyway. Instead of seeing your daughter ruin her life and go off and become a drug addict and pregnant with a crazy man, why don't you just say it's time to end it? I could understand."
  
  Tan herself does not have children, through choice. "It was a number of things. Number one is that I was afraid I would become the kind of mother who was similar to my mother: over-protective, worrying constantly . . . And part of it was just selfishness. I wanted my own career. My mother had raised me to think it was very important for me to be self-sufficient, that if ever the marriage wasn't working I had absolute freedom to just leave. We talked about having children and I said [to my husband], 'If you're willing to be the primary care-taker, then I'd be willing to have a child.' But neither of us really wanted to take on that role."
  
  In the past she has said her novels are her offspring. "What's in me that I have wanted to pass on is already in the books." Although novels, they are based on the lives of her Chinese forebears, particularly that of her grandmother, who was raped, forced into concubinage and, after giving birth to a son, committed suicide by swallowing raw opium buried in rice cakes. Her daughter - Amy's mother, Daisy - was nine at the time and watched her mother die. It left Daisy with suicidal urges that lasted all her life.
  
  "The trauma was passed from one mother to her daughter and to the next generation," says Tan. "My grandmother killed herself, my mother was suicidal and passed on this sense of despair to me."
  
  At the age of six, Amy herself tried to slash her wrists, but says she has never felt suicidal since. "Legacies can be fateful unless you're aware of how that stream has maintained itself. By understanding that sense of fate and writing about it, I feel that I have broken it. I feel I am conversing with my grandmother, who of course I never met. By looking at why she did this and her sense of both anger and despair in not having a voice, I'm saying to her: we have a voice now, we can give voice to this."
  
  Did she feel a responsibility towards her? "I do, I do. I'm being a witness for her."
  
  She also feels a responsibility towards her mother, to whom she was very close, despite the volatility of their relationship. Her mother asked Tan to write her story, a task she undertook - in a veiled fashion - in The Kitchen God's Wife. "It was very true to my mother's life and it was very special to me that she gave me her story and permission to write it, and then, in my writing of it, I was able to give it back to her."
  
  Tan found out as a teenager that her mother had been married before, to an abusive husband with whom she had five children, two of whom died. Daisy had run away, blaming her husband for the deaths. Three daughters, aged between four and 11, survived but her husband refused to let her see them. So Daisy left China five days before the revolution and went to California, where she married John Tan, an electrical engineer (and later a Baptist minister) originally from Beijing. The couple had three children, including Amy, who found out about her older half-sisters during another ugly argument with her mother.
  
  "When I heard about them, I felt threatened, because I thought my mother was saying, 'You could be replaced. In fact I've got three of them waiting right there in the wings and they speak Chinese and they love to obey me' . . . And I also thought if she left this family, she could leave us." Amy met her half-sisters for the first time in 1987 on a visit to China with her mother, who had not seen them for three decades. "They were, in her mind, old ladies by then." Tan became friends with her sisters, two of whom subsequently came to live in America.
  
  Her mother died a couple of years ago and I ask Tan how her life has changed since then. "It's funny: it hasn't really changed all that much. I often feel she's here. There are times when I have these funny little moments. I'll say 'What am I forgetting?' I need to bring something but I can't remember what it is. It will just fall in front of me, like, 'Oh, my medicines, right, thanks Mum.' "
  
  Throughout her life, Tan has been a magnet for extraordinary events and near-disasters. "I accumulated, as others might Hummel figurines, a variety of accidents, assaults and acts of God," she recounts in The Opposite of Fate.
  
  Just to select a few: she has been in two car crashes, robbed at gunpoint, nearly raped, almost drowned, asked to identify the body of her best friend and flatmate who was tortured and murdered by intruders (by chance Tan was away from the flat that night), threatened with death by stalkers and almost swept away in a mudslide. "For a while, I did think I was terribly unlucky, but when I considered it, I thought 'How many people could have gone through all these bad things and not ever have anything that serious happen to them?' I must be incredibly lucky."
  
  Yet when she fell ill a couple of years ago, suffering from hallucinations and fatigue, doctors told her she had post-traumatic stress disorder. "They thought it was probably a natural outcome of this very eventful life that I had had."
  
  In fact - in yet another stroke of misfortune - she had Lyme Disease, an illness started by the bite of a deer tick, which causes neurological damage. For months she was unable to write, but is slowly recovering.
  
  Tan has started to write again and is over half-way through her next novel, to be published next year. I ask if she feels she would ever have become a writer if she had led a normal life. "I think that an eventful life in traumatic ways as a child or teenager makes you examine life a little differently. Beyond asking, 'Why is the sky blue?', you're asking 'Why is this person my mother?' You're an alienated figure in your own life; like Jane Eyre, you're misunderstood, you're on a journey to find out who the real you is supposed to be."
  
  Has she found the real Amy Tan? "I have for the moment. The real me is very grateful and content and happy. I feel imbued with a lot of luck. With all my books, I will continue to find out who the real me is."
  
  
  The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan (Flamingo) is published on November 17. To order for £13.99 plus £2.25 p&p, please call Telegraph Books Direct on 0870 155 7222.
  
  Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright


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