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Soft-Speaking Tough Souls

Joyce Carol Oates: Grace Paley, 16 April 1998

The Collected Stories of Grace Paley 
Virago, 398 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 1 86049 423 4Show More
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... How aptly named: Grace Paley. For ‘grace’ is perhaps the most accurate, if somewhat poetic, term to employ in speaking of this gifted writer who has concentrated on short, spare fiction through a career of nearly five decades. First published in 1959 with The Little Disturbances of Man, Grace Paley immediately drew an audience of readers who were not only admiring but loving ...

Paley’s People

Angela Carter, 17 April 1980

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

Paley’s Planet

Robert Walshe, 17 April 1986

Three of a Kind 
by Rachel Ingalls.
Faber, 141 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13606 0
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Home Truths 
by Mavis Gallant.
Cape, 330 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 224 02344 6
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Later the Same Day 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 211 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 86068 701 5
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... of stories is in much the same fix. I am speaking here of Mavis Gallant, Rachel Ingalls and Grace Paley, all ladies in a world where some of us try hard to be lads,1 and short stories written by ladies are little different from shoes: they need breaking in. During the course of the past two months, I hobbled dutifully between my various estates ...

A Shark Swims through It

Lidija Haas: A Talent for Nonchalance, 8 March 2018

A Grace Paley Reader: Stories, Essays and Poetry 
edited by Kevin Bowen and Nora Paley.
Farrar, Straus, 371 pp., $27, October 2017, 978 0 374 16582 6
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... of the few accounts of women’s lives in which that notion feels utterly foreign is the work of Grace Paley, where the typewriter sits on the kitchen table and single mothers do their political organising at the playground. You don’t have a story, Paley warned her writing students, if you’ve left out ‘money and ...

Capital W, Capital W

Michael Wood: Women writers, 19 August 1999

Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Harvill, 381 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 1 86046 586 2
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Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 332 pp., £8.99, August 1999, 1 86049 696 2
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... place. Not so much in the original line as in all the echoes and shades and turns and pivots.’ Grace Paley, not included in the Paris Review volume, but very well represented in her Collected Stories,* which were discussed in the LRB (16 April 1998) by Joyce Carol Oates, and in Just as I Thought, a collection of ...

Daddy’s Girl

Anita Brookner, 22 December 1983

Fathers: Reflections by Daughters 
edited by Ursula Owen.
Virago, 224 pp., £5.50, November 1983, 9780860683940
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... than usual from their fathers’ standards. In this respect the most profound comment comes from Grace Paley’s father. He is a retired Jewish doctor; he is 86 years old and bedridden; he has to have frequent recourse to his oxygen cylinder; and he asks her to read him a story. She does more than that; she writes him one, and it is a ...

Bizarre and Wonderful

Wes Enzinna: Murray Bookchin, Eco-Anarchist, 4 May 2017

Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin 
by Janet Biehl.
Oxford, 344 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 0 19 934248 8
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... networks and eventually topple state power. His 24 published books had earned him admirers such as Grace Paley, Noam Chomsky and Ursula LeGuin (who based her novel The Dispossessed in part on Bookchin’s early work); but Gary Snyder denounced him as a ‘thug’, the Situationists dismissed him as ‘spit in the horrible communitarian soup’ and one of ...

Why the birthday party didn’t happen

Michael Wood, 10 March 1994

Short Cuts 
directed by Robert Altman.
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Short Cuts: The Screenplay 
by Robert Altman and Frank Barhydt.
Capra/Airlift, 144 pp., £12.99, October 1993, 0 88496 378 0
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Short Cuts 
by Raymond Carver, introduced by Robert Altman.
Harvill, 157 pp., £6.99, March 1994, 0 00 272704 8
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... face – nothing out of the ordinary.’ Carver wants us to see what that face won’t show; what Grace Paley calls ‘the little disturbances’ lurking unseen in the ordinary. Altman, as he says, has always been interested in the ‘mystery and inspiration’ of human behaviour, and many of his characters in this movie start out pretty exotic: one ...

On Robert Silvers

Andrew O’Hagan: Remembering Robert Silvers, 20 April 2017

... a dinner in St Luke’s Place. He was talking about Norman Mailer, whom Silvers and his partner, Grace Dudley, had just bumped into at Bayreuth. ‘I think Norman’s just spinning his wheels,’ he said. ‘He came up to Grace and me and started saying that Wotan is really a misunderstood guy, having to put up with all ...

Blake’s Tone

E.P. Thompson, 28 January 1993

Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s 
by Jon Mee.
Oxford, 251 pp., £30, August 1992, 0 19 812226 8
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... condensed in its footnotes), Clarke Garrett’s Respectable Folly, or several studies by Morton Paley. Mee adds to their findings several pamphleteers and preachers of his own discovery, the most interesting of whom is Garnet Terry. Terry was first a follower of and then a competitor with William Huntington, S.S. The ‘S.S.’ stood for Sinner Saved, and ...

Leaving it

Rosemary Ashton, 16 February 1989

John Henry Newman: A Biography 
by Ian Ker.
Oxford, 762 pp., £48, January 1989, 0 19 826451 8
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James Fitzjames Stephen: Portrait of a Victorian Rationalist 
by K.J.M. Smith.
Cambridge, 338 pp., £30, November 1988, 0 521 34029 2
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... is to be deferred to, that faith only justifies, yet that it does not justify without works, that grace does not depend upon sacraments, yet is not given without them, that bishops are a divine ordinance, yet those who have them not are in the same religious condition as those who have, – this is your safe man and the hope of the Church; this is what the ...

About to Pop

Madeleine Schwartz: Kathleen Collins, 4 July 2019

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? 
by Kathleen Collins.
Granta, 192 pp., £8.99, February 2018, 978 1 78378 341 0
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Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works 
by Kathleen Collins.
Ecco, 464 pp., £14, February 2019, 978 0 06 280095 4
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... in the New York Review compared the stories collected in Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? to Grace Paley’s; Parul Sehgal in the New York Times said comparisons to Paley are lazy. But they do seem apt. Collins’s stories, as Gornick says, are exercises in voice. What does it sound like when one person narrates ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... the Clutter family murder case. ‘Weren’t you scared going into their cells?’ asks Babe Paley (played by Sigourney Weaver), speaking of the murderers while sipping a martini and purring for the Upper West Side. ‘Well,’ he says, ‘it’s not as frightening as meeting Norman Mailer.’ It was a boring flight and I was trying and failing to make ...

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