Title: Rules for Virgins
Author: Amy Tan
Length: Digital Short (42 pages)
I first ready Amy Tan a few years ago. The book was The Joy Luck Club and I remember that I enjoyed it, but I can’t remember any one single detail about it. Therefore, it’s made its way back onto my “must read” list for 2012. In the meantime, however, I opted to check out Rules for Virgins, which is available as a Digital Short on Amazon for .99. Put out by Byliner Fiction (link brings you to an excerpt and their write ups on it), this is Tan’s first release of fiction in over six years. Needless to say, Tan fans are very excited to get their hands on this. And, in my opinion, they won’t be disappointed.
The story is a narration of advice from an older, experienced courtesan to a younger courtesan who is still a virgin. Personally, I knew absolutely nothing about courtesan culture (or, really, anything about Chinese culture during this time period), so I was automatically intrigued. The conversational tone keeps the story moving (you’ll be at the end before you know it) and the advice is, at times, shocking, hilarious, and might make you go “hmmm”. In short, don’t read this if you’re a kid or blush easily.
In Tan’s own words (from the Byliner article linked above):
So now there is a story called Rules for Virgins. It takes place in Shanghai in 1912, when my grandmother’s cousin was a young woman in Shanghai. It concerns a fourteen-year-old virgin courtesan who is mentored by a seasoned one, Magic Gourd, now over the hill at age thirty-three, who has a no-nonsense attitude, modeled after my mother’s. If you take out the nature of these women’s profession, the actual advice is more like the marketing strategies of any business, and in this story’s case, humorous ones having to do with the vulnerability of men’s egos. That makes it an age-old story, I think.
This book is currently only available in a digital format, but if you don’t own an actual eReader, you can download an app onto your computer, iPhone, or iPad. Enjoy! This short story definitely makes for a good “last read” of the year!
Visit Amy Tan’s page on Amazon.