Grace Paley: search & destroy; classic or dud; etc.

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I've recently become curious about her, and would be grateful to anyone who recommends starting points (or warnings away from).

otto, Saturday, 17 April 2004 17:59 (sixteen years ago) link

"A Conversation with my Father" is an oddly good place to start, as far as getting a sense of Paley's top-level concerns and her sense of what stories are or should be about; "Goodbye and Good Luck," "Faith in the Afternoon," and "The Pale Pink Roast" are also terrific. There's really no reason not to pick up the Collected Stories and run through it, and I can't think of how exactly anyone would give you a warning-away; she's valuable at least for that old tag of putting a (post)modern's approach to literature in the service of a sort of humanist/domestic milieu, despite our tendency to imagine, against all reason, that the two don't go together. The upshot of that, in Paley, is a sort of best-of-both-worlds thing, like if Malamud and Barthelme combined to form a mother.

nabiscothingy, Sunday, 18 April 2004 23:34 (sixteen years ago) link

I got the collected stories out of the library, and checked out, among others, "Conversation" and "Goodbye." So far I'm getting the Malamud comparison, but only to a lesser extent the Barthelme, and just insofar as she employs metafictional techniques. I'm a keep reading, though. Thanks, Nabisco.

otto, Tuesday, 20 April 2004 01:27 (sixteen years ago) link

I forgot to add that it was refreshing to read a story as well-written as "Goodbye and Good Luck" which ended as happily as it did.

otto, Thursday, 22 April 2004 00:53 (sixteen years ago) link

NB I realized the other day that I actually didn't mean "Goodbye and Good Luck" -- I'm thinking instead of the one where a woman runs into her ex-husband in front of the public library. Possibly my favorite Paley story, and I can't seem to remember the name of it.

nabiscothingy, Thursday, 22 April 2004 23:47 (sixteen years ago) link

And the Barthelme connection is all about technique, and the way the dialogue (and narration, really) can compress so much into such deft turns: if you come across the ex-husband story I have in mind, you should be able to see what I'm thinking of. And that's apart from the literal connection; at some point they lived across the street from one another in the village and traded stories.

nabiscothingy, Thursday, 22 April 2004 23:50 (sixteen years ago) link

thirteen years pass...

13 years later i can tell nabisco the story he was thinking of is the first one in the collection 'enormous changes at the last minute', which i just finished, and loved. i'd never heard of her til recently when i read a george saunders piece talking about how great she is.

just sayin, Monday, 8 January 2018 05:42 (two years ago) link

any other fans?

just sayin, Monday, 8 January 2018 05:43 (two years ago) link

i guess i should just get her collected stories now

just sayin, Monday, 8 January 2018 05:43 (two years ago) link

I like this profile, if a profile can be something like a 360 view, with reference to A Grace Paley Reader, fairly recent selection of stories, poems, nonfiction (A not The, which seems appropriate):

dow, Monday, 8 January 2018 16:16 (two years ago) link

Paley should be considered one of the great mid-century American writers, seems ripe for "rediscovery" in every way (though of course she has never stopped being beloved by other writers and MFA students) Crackling American demotic language which is in every way LITERARY -- so hard to do, so few succeed.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 8 January 2018 16:20 (two years ago) link

Yeah she's great - need to get into the poetry & essays, I have a couple of collections.

very stabbable gaius (wins), Monday, 8 January 2018 17:21 (two years ago) link


non-nabisco, Wednesday, 10 January 2018 16:27 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

Reading Collected Stories thanks to Lydia Davis' active interest.

I'm adjusting to her rhythms.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 3 March 2020 22:58 (six months ago) link

good stuff

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Tuesday, 3 March 2020 23:00 (six months ago) link

i read 'later the same day' last month & ordered 'the little disturbances of man' as soon as i finished it.

just sayin, Wednesday, 4 March 2020 00:39 (six months ago) link

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