Listen To The Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter To Do? A Memoir (sort Of)

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Listen To The Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter To Do? A Memoir (sort Of)

by Elaine Lui

Random House of Canada | April 1, 2014 | Hardcover |

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Most people think I'm exaggerating at first when I talk about the Chinese Squawking Chicken. But once they actually spend some time with her, they understand. They get it. Right away. She's Chinese, she squawks like a chicken, she is totally nuts, and I am totally dependent on her.

When Elaine Lui was growing up, her mother told her, "Why do you need to prepare for the good things that happen? They're good. They won't hurt you. My job is to prepare you for the hard times, and teach you how to avoid them, whenever possible." Neither traditionally Eastern nor conventionally Western, the Squawking Chicken raised her daughter drawing on Chinese fortune-telling, feng shui blackmail, good old-fashioned ghost stories, and shame and embarrassment in equal measure. And despite years of chafing against her mother's parenting style, Elaine came to recognize the hidden wisdom-and immeasurable value-in her rather unorthodox upbringing.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of unusual advice and warnings used to teach Elaine about hard work ("Miss Hong Kong is a whore"), humility ("I should have given birth to a piece of barbecue pork"), love and friendship, family loyalty ("Where's my money?"), style and deportment ("Don't be low classy"), finding one's own voice ("Walk like an elephant, squawk like a chicken") among other essentials. Along the way, Elaine poignantly reveals how her mother earned the nickname "Tsiahng Gai" or "squawking chicken" growing up in Hong Kong, enduring and rising from the ashes of her own hard times.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken is a loving mother-daughter memoir that will have readers laughing out loud, gasping in shock, and reconsidering the honesty and guts it takes to be a parent.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 240 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.79 in

Published: April 1, 2014

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345813472

ISBN - 13: 9780345813473

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– More About This Product –

Listen To The Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter To Do? A Memoir (sort Of)

by Elaine Lui

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 240 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.79 in

Published: April 1, 2014

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345813472

ISBN - 13: 9780345813473

From the Publisher

Most people think I'm exaggerating at first when I talk about the Chinese Squawking Chicken. But once they actually spend some time with her, they understand. They get it. Right away. She's Chinese, she squawks like a chicken, she is totally nuts, and I am totally dependent on her.

When Elaine Lui was growing up, her mother told her, "Why do you need to prepare for the good things that happen? They're good. They won't hurt you. My job is to prepare you for the hard times, and teach you how to avoid them, whenever possible." Neither traditionally Eastern nor conventionally Western, the Squawking Chicken raised her daughter drawing on Chinese fortune-telling, feng shui blackmail, good old-fashioned ghost stories, and shame and embarrassment in equal measure. And despite years of chafing against her mother's parenting style, Elaine came to recognize the hidden wisdom-and immeasurable value-in her rather unorthodox upbringing.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken lays bare the playbook of unusual advice and warnings used to teach Elaine about hard work ("Miss Hong Kong is a whore"), humility ("I should have given birth to a piece of barbecue pork"), love and friendship, family loyalty ("Where's my money?"), style and deportment ("Don't be low classy"), finding one's own voice ("Walk like an elephant, squawk like a chicken") among other essentials. Along the way, Elaine poignantly reveals how her mother earned the nickname "Tsiahng Gai" or "squawking chicken" growing up in Hong Kong, enduring and rising from the ashes of her own hard times.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken is a loving mother-daughter memoir that will have readers laughing out loud, gasping in shock, and reconsidering the honesty and guts it takes to be a parent.

About the Author

ELAINE LUI is a celebrity gossip blogger and the voice behind LaineyGossip, a leading international celebrity news source followed by more than 1.5 million people internationally. Her TEDx Talk, "The Sociology of Gossip," is about the critical place of gossip within modern pop culture. Elaine has been a reporter on CTV''s daily entertainment show, Etalk, since 2006, is now a co-host on CTV''s daily talk show, The Social, and previously worked for Covenant House Vancouver. Born in Toronto, she lived in Vancouver for thirteen years, before returning to Toronto.

Editorial Reviews

“I devoured this book in one sitting . . . alternately cheering, laughing, cringing and gasping in horror. Lui captures the complexity of a mother-daughter relationship that is both complicated and beautiful, poignant with a bare honesty that may make you think (and rethink) your own relationships.” —Jenny Lawson, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened   “What an incredible character is the Squawking Chicken—she’s a movie, an Amy Tan novel, and a sitcom all rolled into one. Fans of Elaine Lui’s website, LaineyGossip.com , have long wondered where that smart, exacting, hilarious, opinionated, and highly moral (though never moralistic) voice came from. Lui answers this question herself with her beautifully written and fiercely funny book, giving all the credit to her mother, the indomitable Squawking Chicken. By turns deeply moving, shocking and hilarious, this is a story of atypical parenting, cultural complexities and one daughter’s capacity for forgiveness, compassion and love. I didn’t want it to end.” —Lisa Gabriele, author of the SECRET trilogy and The Almost Archer Sisters   “Elaine Lui has written one remarkable and dangerous book. It had me laughing till I rolled off the bed, rearranging my living room furniture in a panic at 3:00 a.m. to achieve proper feng shui, and calling my mother out of pure guilt. The Squawking Chicken could eat any Tiger Mo
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Bookclub Guide

1. Elaine tells us that Chinese women are taught to be humble and meek-not exactly the Squawking Chicken's approach. How do you think Elaine has come to reconcile her mother's demeanor with her own? Where in the book did you begin to see Elaine's individuality take shape?

2. Elaine's mother told her: "'If you can tell the story of the worst thing that has ever happened to you, you'll never be silenced.'" Do you agree? How do you think people are burdened or liberated by their past? 

3. From the absence of bedtime stories to the Squawking Chicken's frank day-to-day advice, Elaine writes about her mother's belief that a parent's role is to provide a crash course in real-world preparation. How does your experience as a parent or child differ from what we see in Listen to the Squawking Chicken?

4. The notion of filial piety appears throughout Listen to the Squawking Chicken, and eventually we learn that Elaine and Jacek-who have decided against hatching a brood-won't be reaping the returns of an obedient child. What's your take on filial piety? Have your parents expected this of you and, if applicable, will you expect it of your children in turn? 

5. Elaine discusses the challenge of bridging her ethnic culture with her Canadian identity. "Ma shamed me so that I would not suppress the Chinese part of myself to try to become something I could never be." Shame is often used to repress unwanted thoughts and actions, but the Squawking Chicken uses shame to hone Elaine's self-confidence. Do you think shame is a useful tool to do so? How did or didn't it work for Elaine?

6. The Squawking Chicken wasn't shy about buying Elaine's first bra. When Elaine expressed some embarrassment, she said: "'Your body, this natural. What you need, bra, this natural. . . . If you shame your body, you shame yourself. When you shame yourself, everyone shame you.'" How are girls and women taught to perceive their developing bodies? Is this changing? 

7. Feng Shui is a constant force in Elaine's life-in romance, house-hunting, and career choices. Were you surprised by the way Feng Shui has influenced Elaine's personal life? Do you use anything similar in your own? Discuss. 

8. When the Squawking Chicken's relationship with her second husband come to an end, Elaine said her mother felt disappointment because "She'd let herself be disappointed. She'd let herself trust a person who only let her down. And, once again, that disappointment was a result of her powerlessness." How accountable can an individual be for another's actions? Do you tend to shoulder disappointment alone? 

9. The Squawking Chicken doesn't believe in lauding another person's good looks. ("So what pretty?") Do compliments on physical appearance have value? Discuss. 

10. Do you believe, as the Squawking Chicken does, that a person needs only one true friend? Have you deliberately limited the number of people you call close friends? 

11. Elaine identifies her mother's lack of empathy as one reason she struggles to make and maintain friendships, which often manifests itself in her strict assessment of "Low Classy" people. To what standards do you hold your own friends? Do you think the Squawking Chicken's expectations are, as Elaine believes, too lofty?

12. The Squawking Chicken isn't afraid to share her material successes with others. When Elaine confronts her mother about showing off her new house to friends, the Squawking Chicken replies: "'Your daddy work hard. Your daddy buy a big house. Be proud of your daddy!'" Is there a line between pride and boastfulness? Where do you draw it?

13. How do you think the Squawking Chicken has felt about having this book written about her life with her daughter, by her daughter?

14. What did you think about the book ending with the Squawking Chicken's voice via her text messages to Elaine? 

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