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A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays, and Poetry

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An essential book for all Grace Paley fans Grace Paley is best known for her inimitable short stories, but she was also an enormously talented essayist and poet. A Grace Paley Reader collects the best of Paley’s writing, showcasing her breadth of work and her extraordinary insight and empathy. With an introduction by George Saunders and an afterword by the writer’s An essential book for all Grace Paley fans Grace Paley is best known for her inimitable short stories, but she was also an enormously talented essayist and poet. A Grace Paley Reader collects the best of Paley’s writing, showcasing her breadth of work and her extraordinary insight and empathy. With an introduction by George Saunders and an afterword by the writer’s daughter, Nora Paley, A Grace Paley Reader is sure to become an instant classic.


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An essential book for all Grace Paley fans Grace Paley is best known for her inimitable short stories, but she was also an enormously talented essayist and poet. A Grace Paley Reader collects the best of Paley’s writing, showcasing her breadth of work and her extraordinary insight and empathy. With an introduction by George Saunders and an afterword by the writer’s An essential book for all Grace Paley fans Grace Paley is best known for her inimitable short stories, but she was also an enormously talented essayist and poet. A Grace Paley Reader collects the best of Paley’s writing, showcasing her breadth of work and her extraordinary insight and empathy. With an introduction by George Saunders and an afterword by the writer’s daughter, Nora Paley, A Grace Paley Reader is sure to become an instant classic.

30 review for A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays, and Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Bringing together a wide range of stories, essays, and poems, A Grace Paley Reader surveys the writer’s eclectic body of work. The short stories are selected from the three collections the author published in her lifetime; wry in tone, they center on the lives and voices of working-class or newly middle-class Jewish New Yorkers. The essays, by contrast, read as an extension of and reflection on Paley’s political activism, dealing with everything from reproductive rights to anti-nuclear protest. Bringing together a wide range of stories, essays, and poems, A Grace Paley Reader surveys the writer’s eclectic body of work. The short stories are selected from the three collections the author published in her lifetime; wry in tone, they center on the lives and voices of working-class or newly middle-class Jewish New Yorkers. The essays, by contrast, read as an extension of and reflection on Paley’s political activism, dealing with everything from reproductive rights to anti-nuclear protest. In both her fiction and nonfiction, Paley writes lucidly, in frank prose that is as concise as it is moving. Understatement, self-deprecating humor, and flares of social insight are common. While the poems in the Reader aren’t as memorable as the rest of the pieces, the collection offers a useful introduction to the underrated writer.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bookforum Magazine

    "The playground in a Grace Paley story is a lot less boring than the playgrounds I've wheeled my kids around to; it is a microcosm of society and at the same time a surreal invention, more spirited and warmer than any actual park. This is, in part, the result of the writer's ingenuity, but I think it also comes from listening, from the attention Paley must have paid to the people at Washington Square Park, where she took her kids, so that she could create a version of the place with the volume "The playground in a Grace Paley story is a lot less boring than the playgrounds I've wheeled my kids around to; it is a microcosm of society and at the same time a surreal invention, more spirited and warmer than any actual park. This is, in part, the result of the writer's ingenuity, but I think it also comes from listening, from the attention Paley must have paid to the people at Washington Square Park, where she took her kids, so that she could create a version of the place with the volume turned up. The job of the writer, she once said, "is to imagine the real. This is where our leaders are falling down and where we ourselves have to imagine the lives of other people." To remain open to what you don't understand, to take a real interest in life, to put yourself on the line. She lived and wrote like that." –Karen Olsson on A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays, and Poetry in the April/May 2017 issue of Bookforum To read the rest of this review, please go to Bookforum: http://bookforum.com/inprint/024_01/1...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul Wilner

    My notice, for the Millions website, on this new collection of work by the wonderful Grace Paley, follows below: http://www.themillions.com/2017/04/no...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karima

    I wish I could have her over and feed her peaches and cream. She deserves every kindness. The New Yorker calls Ms. Paley "The Saint of Seeing" Grace Paley, the Saint of Seeing | The New Yorker www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/g...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan Emmet

    Long a Paley admirer, I loved this collection overseen by Kevin Bowen and Nora Paley with an introduction by George Saunders (Lincoln of the Bardo). Loved reading the life overlapping as I approach 70. So much of what Paley writes, I knew or tried to live, sometimes with a bit of dumb success. Growing up in NYC during the Depression, daughter of fierce and committed Jews, Paley knew early on that "regular" life of male dominance, of racism, of war-driven economies and politics and power, of Long a Paley admirer, I loved this collection overseen by Kevin Bowen and Nora Paley with an introduction by George Saunders (Lincoln of the Bardo). Loved reading the life overlapping as I approach 70. So much of what Paley writes, I knew or tried to live, sometimes with a bit of dumb success. Growing up in NYC during the Depression, daughter of fierce and committed Jews, Paley knew early on that "regular" life of male dominance, of racism, of war-driven economies and politics and power, of convention and convenience, of making do, of having faith in children and writing, of speaking truth to power -all were in her DNA. She always had a way of overturning attitudes and demanding respect for those who appeared voiceless. George Saunders: "Any object, any human gesture, contains an infinity of language with which it might be described. But through habituation, or paucity of talent, or lack of originality, most of us, writing, reach for the most workaday speech-tools, and in this way the world is made dull. Here comes Paley: seemingly incapable of a banal sentence, a loose observation, or a distracted fictive moment...Paley is, for me, a kind of secular saint. What is a saint? Someone particularly attentive to things as they are and extraordinarily accepting of them." I think that's the key for me: her unequivocal attention to all things in all their diversity and horror and glory. Sure would like to have been in one of her classes over time. And her love of the "sight and sound of the Bread and Puppet Theater - for them she knew "admiration, happiness, restfulness, artistic and political inspiration, corroboration, envy and love and gratitude." And her advice to students, to people wanting to learn to write: Speak in your natural grammar. Write a first person narrative in the voice of someone with whom you're in conflict. Personal journals are boring, at least for a while. Tell stories; pass them on. Eliminate lies by being fair and just to characters and getting each word just right. Don't write to an editor's or teacher's taste. Read the autobiographies of Emma Goldman, Prince Kropotkin and Malcolm X. Do a List Assignment and use that as fodder for a story; list everything and then talk. Read Isaac Babel and William Butler Yeats. Realize that you begin again anew every time you write. You begin again each day. What a glorious woman she was.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vivek Tejuja

    Grace Paley is one of those writers for which you to devote a lot of time and mind space. The reason I say this: the narrators and characters of her stories will not leave you. Her essays will haunt you long after you have finished reading them. Her verse will stay, whether you like it or not. To me, she is one of the finest I have read this year (I have of course read her works earlier as well – but scattered). I think this book also is the definite collection if you need an introduction to her Grace Paley is one of those writers for which you to devote a lot of time and mind space. The reason I say this: the narrators and characters of her stories will not leave you. Her essays will haunt you long after you have finished reading them. Her verse will stay, whether you like it or not. To me, she is one of the finest I have read this year (I have of course read her works earlier as well – but scattered). I think this book also is the definite collection if you need an introduction to her work, before you move on to other books by her. “A Grace Paley Reader” has a lot of omissions from her earlier works, but I guess as an editor they have to choose what to put and what to remove. Nonetheless, to me the span of her work mattered and this anthology touched on almost every genre in which she wrote. My favourite essays though are “A Midrash on Happiness” and also “Other People’s Children” which are very unsettling and yet so comforting – the paradox is hard to explain. But then the sort of writer Grace Paley was, it is just very difficult to ignore her as a reader. “A Conversation with my Father” will tear you up in no time and you would wonder if a short story can do that, as it already has. Her economy of words, and at the same time the effortlessness of her prose keeps you stunned. Paley was also a feminist and that is reflective in her poems such as “Anti-Love Poem” or “Is There a Difference Between Men and Women” and my personal favourite “Letter to my Daughter”. She can do anything if you ask me and does in most of her work. The introduction by George Saunders sums up her work beautifully in this one sentence: “Grace Paley will live in the minds of the readers she has moved, and in the minds of those she will yet move”. Need I say more after this?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susann

    Everything about this book is just right. The idea of it: bringing together a selection of Grace Paley's stories, essays, and poems. The choosing. That must have been so difficult, but the choosers chose well. The introduction by George Saunders. Lincoln in the Bardo is now even higher on my to-read list. The jacket design. Are there awards for jacket design? Because Na Kim deserves one. Everything about the book is just like Grace (Hey, I met her once. I write this with authority): warm, Everything about this book is just right. The idea of it: bringing together a selection of Grace Paley's stories, essays, and poems. The choosing. That must have been so difficult, but the choosers chose well. The introduction by George Saunders. Lincoln in the Bardo is now even higher on my to-read list. The jacket design. Are there awards for jacket design? Because Na Kim deserves one. Everything about the book is just like Grace (Hey, I met her once. I write this with authority): warm, welcoming, smart, but never taking herself too seriously. And then there is her writing. This was my third or fourth time reading her stories, and they have grown even more meaningful for me. Motherhood, yes. But also the relationships, the activism, New York City. When I was first introduced to Grace's stories during college, I knew I was hearing a voice like no other, but I couldn't appreciate just how rare it was for a woman writing about ALL THIS to be published. You know how Matthew Weiner used John Cheever's stories as inspiration for Mad Men? I would love for someone to do the same thing, only with Paley as inspiration. Grace's voice is just as strong with her essays and poetry. I love that the poems show more of her Vermont side–an interesting contrast after New York City. The essays shine more light on her dedicated activism, and they fill me with her awe for her bravery. "We are in the hands of men whose power and wealth have separated them from the reality of daily life and from the imagination. We are right to be afraid." Highly recommended, both for those already in the Grace fan club and those looking for an introduction.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robin Kempf

    To be honest, I only read the short stories, and not the essays or poetry, as they aren’t really my thing, so these comments are limited in that respect. Paley writes in a way someone talks or thinks in their head, which is sometimes energetic and fun, and other times hard and a slog. Interestingly my two favorite stories were the first and the last, which I highly recommend: “Goodbye and Good Luck” and “Zagrowski Tells.” They are well worth tracking down as they perfectly capture a time and To be honest, I only read the short stories, and not the essays or poetry, as they aren’t really my thing, so these comments are limited in that respect. Paley writes in a way someone talks or thinks in their head, which is sometimes energetic and fun, and other times hard and a slog. Interestingly my two favorite stories were the first and the last, which I highly recommend: “Goodbye and Good Luck” and “Zagrowski Tells.” They are well worth tracking down as they perfectly capture a time and sentiment, plus they are humorous. They are probably enough Paley for most readers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Embarrassed to say I hadn't read Paley before, buying the collected stories ASAP

  10. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Calvillo

    Drop everything and go to the bookstore. Go to Anthologies or Fiction. P. Paley. Grab it. Grab any of them. Grab them all! Or at least grab this one. I believe Grace Paley is one of the best authors that this planet has ever had the pleasure to host. Her short stories will haunt you for weeks, months, years or your whole life, even, if you are like me. The characters in her stories are all unique but ordinary. People like you and me, but made special through Paley's gifted eyes. Strong women with Drop everything and go to the bookstore. Go to Anthologies or Fiction. P. Paley. Grab it. Grab any of them. Grab them all! Or at least grab this one. I believe Grace Paley is one of the best authors that this planet has ever had the pleasure to host. Her short stories will haunt you for weeks, months, years or your whole life, even, if you are like me. The characters in her stories are all unique but ordinary. People like you and me, but made special through Paley's gifted eyes. Strong women with incredible voices conquer the pages of this book's stories, speak to us readers with an arrangement of words that leave us on the floor. Take the very first story in this collection, "Goodbye and Good Luck," as an example; the narrator speaking of her mother (and father): "She married who she didn't like, a sick man, his spirit already swallowed up by God. He never washed. He had an unhappy smell. His teeth fell out, his hair disappeared, he got smaller, shriveled up little by little, till goodbye and good luck he was gone and only came to Mama's mind when she went to the mailbox under the stairs to get the electric bill." You have everything you need about those two right there, in an amazing style. Grace Paley's style. The essays in this collection let us take a look into Paley's brilliant mind. Ranging from all periods of her life, we get the privilege to read her memories and thoughts, in complete honesty and without holding back, on themes such as sexuality, war, family, friends, women, poetry, and so much more. It is in this section where we find the Grace Paley behind the incredible voices in her stories. We find a person full of empathy observing, thinking, reasoning, trying to understand and being truthful about it all. Part III, her poetry, will elevate Paley in your literary rankings right to the top. In almost forty pages we understand Paley's mastering of language and unique vision of words. Her rhythm is perfectly balanced with her words and their place on the page, making every line significant in more than one way. Her poetry is fun, endearing, beautiful, and heartbreaking. This book is more than only a great compilation. It is a window to the fantastic house that was Grace Paley's mind. The grip that she had on each word she wrote resonates throughout every page. Word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, the images she produced have no equal. I once heard that Denis Jonson said about one of his stories that he'd looked at every word in the dictionary, and that those were the right words. I believe that Grace Paley, too, looked for the right words, found them, and arranged them in the most astonishing manner.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    read this two months ago as a cap to my return to her fiction back in june, as a gesture of the relevance i feel her work (her life, her work, her writing that is her work, her activism that is her work, the negotiation between the two that is her work) has right now, has always had but is being peculiarly felt again right now. took a review copy of the book months before that for free from a publication i interned for during the school year. so often my notes are just copy-pastes of texts i've read this two months ago as a cap to my return to her fiction back in june, as a gesture of the relevance i feel her work (her life, her work, her writing that is her work, her activism that is her work, the negotiation between the two that is her work) has right now, has always had but is being peculiarly felt again right now. took a review copy of the book months before that for free from a publication i interned for during the school year. so often my notes are just copy-pastes of texts i've sent about the book concerned to my friends, which i could do here, i could—finishing this book coincided exactly with beginning to text someone new. we talked about the relationship between art and ethics and the ethical turn in art—about paley's wise knowledge that sometimes, often, the ethical action, the activism, comes at the expense of the art, about the disappointment of george saunders' intro that admits familiarity primarily with the short stories and thus dwells on that one dimension, a weird choice for someone enlisted to write an introduction of an entire reader and an especially weird choice for a writer whose fiction (but, yes, as far as i know, just his fiction) is often deeply engaged with ethics—and she recommended i read claire bishop. but this time it feels wrong to copy and paste those texts. and perhaps i should think more about what i turn into mindless self-display that was originally meant for just one other person, for their interest. in one of paley's essays collected here she writes about how you're not interesting when you're only interested in yourself, you're only interesting when you're interested in others. what a haunting warning of self-obsession! upon reflection it is a funny argument that is sort of structured to appeal precisely to us self-obsessed types who want more than anything else to be interesting, but two months ago it struck me and it continued to strike me, reverberating. we should all be attending to the basic thrum of the paley reader, the interest in others and the open possibility of that usefully meaningless word, interest.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Lewonczyk

    Discovering Grace Paley has been like falling into an unexpected love affair. A recent review I read of this book bumped her work from "Maybe I'll get around to it one day" to "This sounds like something I need to check out right now," and from there it's been an emotional rollercoaster. I feel a deep, swooning infatuation toward Paley's fiction, which is loopy and rollicking and vulnerable and sad and wise, based in and around the city I love, amongst eccentric, hyperarticulate people - my only Discovering Grace Paley has been like falling into an unexpected love affair. A recent review I read of this book bumped her work from "Maybe I'll get around to it one day" to "This sounds like something I need to check out right now," and from there it's been an emotional rollercoaster. I feel a deep, swooning infatuation toward Paley's fiction, which is loopy and rollicking and vulnerable and sad and wise, based in and around the city I love, amongst eccentric, hyperarticulate people - my only disappointment is that I didn't start with the Collected Stories, so I could read all of them in one blow. I was totally wrapped up in them, like a youthful romance where the whole world takes the color of your partner. Switching to the essays was a transition to a more mature, measured outlook, one in which the pure giddy emotion of possibly finding a literary soulmate melted away to something a bit more wistful - Paley is her own person, and I'll never be as politically committed as she is, a realization that led to growing respect accompanied by a sense of rueful withdrawal. The poems at the end distilled this contradiction into a form so clear that it was like looking back on the affair from a more distant vantage - the love and respect are still there, but there's a sense that your paths have parted, though hopefully to meet again someday. Compounding the sense of a brief passion is the knowledge that this volume contains a significant percentage of Paley's total output - she was not a prolific writer, and so I'm left with a sense of mystery, a curiosity about what could have been. So in a sense, maybe it's better that I started here - I'm excited by the knowledge that there's still more to discover.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Neil Griffin

    This was a really interesting, eclectic group of writing. Her stories are brash, colorful, energetic, insightful, and fun. I really enjoyed the atmosphere she sets up in these stories and had no idea where she was going in some of them. Although they are short stories they all make up one major narrative about NYC in a certain time and place. This part of the book was quite enjoyably and was tied up masterfully with the last one, which is a tour-de-force. Where her fiction is slightly This was a really interesting, eclectic group of writing. Her stories are brash, colorful, energetic, insightful, and fun. I really enjoyed the atmosphere she sets up in these stories and had no idea where she was going in some of them. Although they are short stories they all make up one major narrative about NYC in a certain time and place. This part of the book was quite enjoyably and was tied up masterfully with the last one, which is a tour-de-force. Where her fiction is slightly challenging in some ways and a little experimental, her essays are just genuine humanism. She was a major activist during the vietnam era and also expanded into protesting against nuclear bombs in the 80s. These, while not really original arguments to current-day ears, are still well thought out and extremely passionate. Her love, hope, and optimism for the human project is astounding to this cynical reader, but never naive. She definitely pinpointed the danger in American society and warned about what would befall her generation's children and grandchildren (us) if we didn't evolve collectively. Well, we didn't and now we are where she feared we would be. In this, similar to her fiction, there is a late entry that will tear you apart. Lastly, her poetry: it's actually not terribly abstract and reads like the final piece of her puzzle. A lot of the same themes are in here and, after reading her fiction and essays, it's satisfying watching her ruminate on what she finds important in a slightly different form. Overall, a very worthwhile and surprising read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    It was a delight to reread the stories—which are as sharp, finely crafted, open -hearted, and witty as anything else written In American literature. Tillie Olsen is her only rival. I did not know Paley as an essayist, and these pieces are quite different: homespun, extemparaneous, sprawling even when brief. Likeable, and kind, but not masterful in the manner of her fiction. And yet even still, she can write passages like this: “But during all those jobs, once I was married and had children, most It was a delight to reread the stories—which are as sharp, finely crafted, open -hearted, and witty as anything else written In American literature. Tillie Olsen is her only rival. I did not know Paley as an essayist, and these pieces are quite different: homespun, extemparaneous, sprawling even when brief. Likeable, and kind, but not masterful in the manner of her fiction. And yet even still, she can write passages like this: “But during all those jobs, once I was married and had children, most of the day I was a housewife. That is the poorest paying job a woman can hold. But most women feel gypped by life if they don’t get a chance at it. And during all those jobs and all the time I was a housewife, I was a writer. The whole meaning of my life, which was jammed until midnight with fifteen different jobs and places, was writing. It took me a long time to know that, but I know it now.” (From “The Illegal Days”, an essay on abortion, p. 298) What a voice!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Solita

    Did not like her poetry. At all. In one story, X didn't want to move to--Argentina, I believe it was, "because there were too many Indians." IDK. That line stays with me. Like indigestion. The original people hadn't been cleared away, I guess she meant, or converted, or subjected, or "civilized," or acculturated in Euro terms? Hm. Well... Her stories just didn't interest me. Didn't like her style of writing them either. Her essays? I read a couple. Hm, how the privileged think, perceive, assume, Did not like her poetry. At all. In one story, X didn't want to move to--Argentina, I believe it was, "because there were too many Indians." IDK. That line stays with me. Like indigestion. The original people hadn't been cleared away, I guess she meant, or converted, or subjected, or "civilized," or acculturated in Euro terms? Hm. Well... Her stories just didn't interest me. Didn't like her style of writing them either. Her essays? I read a couple. Hm, how the privileged think, perceive, assume, live... I've wondered for a long time. Now I know what Grace Paley is all about. This was enough for me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Devin

    It was fascinating to move between the book's three main sections, short stories, essays, and poetry, as each reflected a different facet of Paley's style and thought. I recommend reading the three at once, jumping between them as mood strikes or time allows. Grace's accounts of her activism were mostly welcome, but her advice to writers struck me as old-fashioned, stipulating too narrowly what writing SHOULD BE. The short stories are really the stars. Paley's language is so fleet of foot, It was fascinating to move between the book's three main sections, short stories, essays, and poetry, as each reflected a different facet of Paley's style and thought. I recommend reading the three at once, jumping between them as mood strikes or time allows. Grace's accounts of her activism were mostly welcome, but her advice to writers struck me as old-fashioned, stipulating too narrowly what writing SHOULD BE. The short stories are really the stars. Paley's language is so fleet of foot, tender, acerbic, wily, speech-like, jumping from moment to moment in mono/dia/multi/logues in a really cracking way. You have to be on your toes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    I loved every part of this except the introduction. (It was just gushy and overwrought. Skip the intro.) The afterward by her daughter was beautiful. Someone had recommended Grace Paley to me and I'm glad they did. I found her stories delightful and her voice so strong. She comes through as a full person in her essays and notes and the voice of her narrators, always dropping the sharpest humor! It gave me a lot to think about in the construction of short fiction.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katie Hurlbut

    Really excellent. I enjoyed the stories taken from Little Disturbances of Man the most as well as a few of the essays on teaching. A great introduction to a master of voice. Recommend highly to those living in or interested in NYC from a working class perspective, lovers of Vivian Gornick, and supporters of the ideas of AOC and Elizabeth Warren. A great literary companion to understanding the importance of socialist ideas and political activism.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I'm so glad I bought a copy of this collection. I have read Grace Paley all my life: I met her in 1977, at a writer's conference, and when she died, each of my parents, separately, called to offer their condolences. These stories are, as you would expect, funny, fierce, and warm. I had read all of them before, but reading them in a new book (my copy of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute is falling apart, its three parts kept together with a rubber band) gave me fresh eyes to appreciate them I'm so glad I bought a copy of this collection. I have read Grace Paley all my life: I met her in 1977, at a writer's conference, and when she died, each of my parents, separately, called to offer their condolences. These stories are, as you would expect, funny, fierce, and warm. I had read all of them before, but reading them in a new book (my copy of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute is falling apart, its three parts kept together with a rubber band) gave me fresh eyes to appreciate them with. I like having the essays and the poems as well, and the introduction by George Saunders was useful. Oh, how I long to see my mother in the doorway. In case you don't know her work, this New Yorker article is a good one. Its the introduction to the collection, too: The New Yorker calls Ms. Paley "The Saint of Seeing" Grace Paley, the Saint of Seeing | The New Yorker www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/g...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    I skimmed over parts of this book but read enough that I feel confident in marking it as "read." The short stories are kind of rough to read, and so I didn't read them all. The essays are political in nature - Grace Paley was an activist, a feminist, a pacifist. The poetry is lovely.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathy D

    I really wanted to love this. I just struggled getting into it and staying with it. I loved a lot of the essays and poetry. I just could not follow the stories.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christina Autumn

    Read the first bit. Her dialect and is challenging and takes more effort than I was willing to give for a bedside table read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sam Mauro

    A good aunt. Wish I loved her stories here more than I found them authentically pleasant, wish I liked anything else.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    A compact selection of Grace Paley’s short stories, essays, and poems, with an introduction by George Saunders (who is insightful but unfortunately only really addresses the stories). This collection is great both for long-time fans and for readers new to Paley because having all three forms together demonstrates how her activism and her approach to writing came from the same thought process. IIRC, Doris Lessing wrote that people who came of age in the 1960s thought they invented sex, but she A compact selection of Grace Paley’s short stories, essays, and poems, with an introduction by George Saunders (who is insightful but unfortunately only really addresses the stories). This collection is great both for long-time fans and for readers new to Paley because having all three forms together demonstrates how her activism and her approach to writing came from the same thought process. IIRC, Doris Lessing wrote that people who came of age in the 1960s thought they invented sex, but she remembered a lot of people having sex in the 1950s. Grace Paley informs us that also in the 1940s there were sex, married women seeking abortions, and single women raising children. Her stories feature many of the last of these—ordinary people doing ordinary things, with wryness and humor. Her essays and poems mostly address politics and writing, as done by ordinary women and mothers, of which she was an extraordinary example.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jude

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jayne Dough

  27. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erin Douglas

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ben G

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Greenfield

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