Paley’s People

Angela Carter

  • The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley
    Virago, 192 pp, £2.50, March 1980, ISBN 0 86068 127 0
  • Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
    Virago, 208 pp, £1.95, May 1979, ISBN 0 86068 108 4

What can put you off Grace Paley’s stories is their charm. ‘An Interest in Life’ in the collection called The Little Disturbances of Man begins: ‘My husband gave me a broom one Christmas. This wasn’t right. No one can tell me it was meant kindly.’ It is so scrupulously disarming an intro that it is bound to put people who like Joan Didion very much on their guard. And it is alarmingly easy to fall into the language of the Martini ad when writing about Grace Paley – wry, dry tender, ironic etc.

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