Hot Best Seller

The Collected Stories (Limited Edition)

Availability: Ready to download

At long last, here are all of Grace Paley's classic stories collected in one volume. From her first book, The Little Disturbances of Man, published in 1959, to Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) and Later the Same Day (1985), Grace Paley's quirky, boisterous characters and rich use of language have won her readers' hearts and secured her place as one of America's At long last, here are all of Grace Paley's classic stories collected in one volume. From her first book, The Little Disturbances of Man, published in 1959, to Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) and Later the Same Day (1985), Grace Paley's quirky, boisterous characters and rich use of language have won her readers' hearts and secured her place as one of America's most accomplished writers. Grace Paley's stories are united by her signature interweaving of personal and political truths, by her extraordinary capacity for empathy, and by her pointed, funny depiction a the small and large events that make up city life. As her work progresses, we encounter many of the same characters and revisit the same sites, bearing witness to a community as it develops and matures, becoming part ourselves of a dense and vital world that is singular yet achingly familiar.


Compare

At long last, here are all of Grace Paley's classic stories collected in one volume. From her first book, The Little Disturbances of Man, published in 1959, to Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) and Later the Same Day (1985), Grace Paley's quirky, boisterous characters and rich use of language have won her readers' hearts and secured her place as one of America's At long last, here are all of Grace Paley's classic stories collected in one volume. From her first book, The Little Disturbances of Man, published in 1959, to Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) and Later the Same Day (1985), Grace Paley's quirky, boisterous characters and rich use of language have won her readers' hearts and secured her place as one of America's most accomplished writers. Grace Paley's stories are united by her signature interweaving of personal and political truths, by her extraordinary capacity for empathy, and by her pointed, funny depiction a the small and large events that make up city life. As her work progresses, we encounter many of the same characters and revisit the same sites, bearing witness to a community as it develops and matures, becoming part ourselves of a dense and vital world that is singular yet achingly familiar.

30 review for The Collected Stories (Limited Edition)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    This book contains three separate volumes of short stories, The Little Disturbances of Man from 1959, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute from 1974 and Later the Same Day from 1985. They were all grouped into one collection in 1994, and this edition was published in 2007, the year Grace Paley died at the age of eighty-five. The stories mostly concern a group of interconnected characters in the Bronx whose lives from early motherhood to late middle age are charted right through the collection, This book contains three separate volumes of short stories, The Little Disturbances of Man from 1959, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute from 1974 and Later the Same Day from 1985. They were all grouped into one collection in 1994, and this edition was published in 2007, the year Grace Paley died at the age of eighty-five. The stories mostly concern a group of interconnected characters in the Bronx whose lives from early motherhood to late middle age are charted right through the collection, which makes it particularly interesting to read the three volumes back to back. Indeed, I think a good proportion of the stories need the scaffolding of the collection and might be difficult to access if read separately as Paley doesn't really go in for filling the reader in with back story. The stories often start in the middle of some action or conversation so the experience of reading Paley is a bit like running to catch a bus, you have to jump on pretty quick once you get close. And you must pay attention or else you might as well step of that bus because it probably isn't going in your direction. There are lots of comic one liners, as in this first line, The old are modest, said Philip. They tend not to outlive one another. But for every ounce of humour, there is a pound of deep reflection on the big issues like inequality, racism, war. Paley's characters are frequently politically active as she was herself, particularly against the war in Vietnam. For me, there were echoes of Doris Lessing's Golden Notebook (which I liked less on a recent second reading) and Fay Weldon's Down Among the Women (also read years ago) but Paley's voice is more brilliant than theirs, Jewish New York all the way through with amazing dialogue. If you want to try one of her stories, read Goodbye and Good Luck, the first in this collection. A gem.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    I love Grace Paley. My cousin gave me this book as a gift I don't know how many years ago, and I turn to it again and again. Last night some friends were over and they wanted books to read and went through my bookshelves and practically threw books at them saying, "take this, you can keep it. Take this, you can keep it." But when I got to Grace Paley I said, "Take this, but I need it back." Even the titles of the stories couldn't get better. Goodbye and Good Luck (a classic, and one which I first I love Grace Paley. My cousin gave me this book as a gift I don't know how many years ago, and I turn to it again and again. Last night some friends were over and they wanted books to read and went through my bookshelves and practically threw books at them saying, "take this, you can keep it. Take this, you can keep it." But when I got to Grace Paley I said, "Take this, but I need it back." Even the titles of the stories couldn't get better. Goodbye and Good Luck (a classic, and one which I first heard narrated by Rea Pearlman). https://archive.org/details/GoodbyeAn... A Woman, Young and Old The Pale Pink Roast The Loudest Voice (I also first heard narrated by Rea Pearlman) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5q4G... The Contest An Interest in Life An Irrevocable Diameter Two Short Sad Stories from a Long and Happy Life In Time Which Made a Monkey of Us All The Floating Truth Wants Debts Distance Faith in the Afternoon Gloomy Tune Living Come On, Ye Sons of Art Faith in a Tree Samuel The Burdened Man Enormous Changes at the Last Minute... One of my favorite of her stories is a very short one. Maybe one of the shortest. And I always have trouble finding it when I want to read it because, for some reason, I don't remember the title...Here it is. "Wants." I've pasted the whole story at the bottom of this review. Paley is one of my literary heroes, a comic writer with a real ear for dialogue and a strong understanding of the tragedy of every day life. She writes with a music all her own, informal-seeming prose with a Yiddish lilt, part poetry, part love song, part complaint. The craft is so finely honed it makes the writing both intimate as a letter and also, painfully distant. She writes with a certain fierce, off-hand humility, brave and shrugging (sure life is hard, but look, it's only life. And there are some nice moments, too, no?) Here is a quote I really liked from the review of another GR reviewer: "There are lots of comic one liners...But for every ounce of humour, there is a pound of deep reflection on the big issues like inequality, racism, war. Paley's characters are frequently politically active as she was herself, particularly against the war in Vietnam. For me, there were echoes of Doris Lessing's Golden Notebook (which I liked less on a recent second reading) and Fay Weldon's Down Among the Women (also read years ago) but Paley's voice is more brilliant than theirs, Jewish New York all the way through with amazing dialogue. " Fionnuala https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... WANTS I saw my ex-husband in the street. I was sitting on the steps of the new library.
 Hello, my life, I said. We had once been married for twenty-seven years, so I felt justified.
 He said, What? What life? No life of mine.
 I said, O.K. I don't argue when there's real disagreement. I got up and went into the library to see how much I owed them.
 The librarian said $32 even and you've owed it for eighteen years. I didn't deny anything. Because I don't understand how time passes. I have had those books. I have often thought of them. The library is only two blocks away.
 My ex-husband followed me to the Books Returned desk. He interrupted the librarian, who had more to tell. In many ways, he said, as I look back, I attribute the dissolution of our marriage to the fact that you never invited the Bertrams to dinner.
 That's possible, I said. But really, if you remember: first, my father was sick that Friday, then the children were born, then I had those Tuesday-night meetings, then the war began. Then we didn't seem to know them any more. But you're right. I should have had them to dinner.
 I gave the librarian a check for $32. Immediately she trusted me, put my past behind her, wiped the record clean, which is just what most other municipal and/or state bureaucracies will not do.
 I checked out the two Edith Wharton books I had just returned because I'd read them so long ago and they are more apropos now than ever. They were The House of Mirth and The Children, which is about how life in the United States in New York changed in twenty-seven years fifty years ago.
 A nice thing I do remember is breakfast, my ex-husband said. I was surprised. All we ever had was coffee. Then I remembered there was a hole in the back of the kitchen closet which opened into the apartment next door. There, they always ate sugar-cured smoked bacon. It gave us a very grand feeling about breakfast, but we never got stuffed and sluggish.
 That was when we were poor, I said.
 When were we ever rich? he asked.
 Oh, as time went on, as our responsibilities increased, we didn't go in need. You took adequate financial care, I reminded him. The children went to camp four weeks a year and in decent ponchos with sleeping bags and boots, just like everyone else. They looked very nice. Our place was warm in winter, and we had nice red pillows and things.
 I wanted a sailboat, he said. But you didn't want anything.
 Don't be bitter, I said. It's never too late.
 No, he said with a great deal of bitterness. I may get a sailboat. As a matter of fact I have money down on an eighteen-foot two-rigger. I'm doing well this year and can look forward to better. But as for you, it's too late. You'll always want nothing.
 He had had a habit throughout the twenty-seven years of making a narrow remark which, like a plumber's snake, could work its way through the ear down the throat, half-way to my heart. He would then disappear, leaving me choking with equipment. What I mean is, I sat down on the library steps and he went away.
 I looked through The House of Mirth, but lost interest. I felt extremely accused. Now, it's true, I'm short of requests and absolute requirements. But I do want something.
 I want, for instance, to be a different person. I want to be the woman who brings these two books back in two weeks. I want to be the effective citizen who changes the school system and addresses the Board of Estimate on the troubles of this dear urban center.
 I had promised my children to end the war before they grew up.
 I wanted to have been married forever to one person, my ex-husband or my present one. Either has enough character for a whole life, which as it turns out is really not such a long time. You couldn't exhaust either man's qualities or get under the rock of his reasons in one short life.
 Just this morning I looked out the window to watch the street for a while and saw that the little sycamores the city had dreamily planted a couple of years before the kids were born had come that day to the prime of their lives.
 Well! I decided to bring those two books back to the library. Which proves that when a person or an event comes along to jolt or appraise me I can take some appropriate action, although I am better known for my hospitable remarks.

  3. 5 out of 5

    William2

    Second reading of The Little Disturbances of Man and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. First reading of Later the Same Day.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Chaikin

    46. The Collected Stories by Grace Paley published: 1994 format: 386 page paperback acquired: 2006, from my neighbor read: Oct 19 - Nov 7 (with something of a break from Oct 29 - Nov 3) rating: 5 Selected stories from three collections: - The Little Disturbances of Man (1959) - Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) - Later the Same Day (1985) It’s when trying to review a book like this, that I get a sense of how limited I am as a reviewer. There is a world of stuff to say about this book, a rich 46. The Collected Stories by Grace Paley published: 1994 format: 386 page paperback acquired: 2006, from my neighbor read: Oct 19 - Nov 7 (with something of a break from Oct 29 - Nov 3) rating: 5 Selected stories from three collections: - The Little Disturbances of Man (1959) - Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) - Later the Same Day (1985) It’s when trying to review a book like this, that I get a sense of how limited I am as a reviewer. There is a world of stuff to say about this book, a rich atmosphere with numerous different angles intersecting in one place…atmospheres. There is a lot here beyond the sentence, that isn’t overtly in the text and quotable, and that is difficult for me explain. I would say most of what leads me to give this book five stars is elusive to me, and not captured below. Paley was something of a idealist whose perennial fascination with human passions, experience and disappointment evolves over the course of time. She has an interesting perspective on religion and life meaning, and either by intention or as a side-effect, shows how incongruous these thoughts are to life itself. All this can felt in these stories - three difference collections from three different eras (1959, 1974 and 1985). Each collection is the same in many ways, in style, in characters, who reoccur, and yet they are each different, distinctive, maybe of Paley’s apparent place. The most notable constant is Paley’s fictional alter-ego, Faith Darwin (a play on her own name and on itself), a divorcee, mother two young boys, who ages through her stories. I think this collection serves as an interesting commentary on its time and the changes through its time, although it dwells on things that did not change - being a woman, being who you are, family and children and the transience of relationships, or really the failure of them, and of judgement. - The Little Disturbances of Man (1959) Lillie, don’t be surprised—change is a fact of God. From this no one is excused. - - - I was just tangent to the Great Circle of Life, of which I am one irrevocable diameter, when my mother appeared. Her first collection is striking by the raw power of its voices, and it is all voices. Each story has a narrator who has a lot to say and quickly. The stories are easy to get into, and quickly run through their material, the narrator having kind of exhausted our emotional stamina. I admired these hyper-powerful impatient stories. They “happen” quickly. The contents, the subjects touched on, struck me. I expected the baggage of Jewish culture, but I didn't expect all the sex and god and Christianity. This is great fun and powerfully memorable stuff. wikipedia tells me the the collection wasn’t particularly successful, just another forgotten work by another unknown author. But it would be republished before her next collection was released. - Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) Just when I most needed important conversation, a sniff of the man-wide world, that is, at least one brainy companion who could translate my friendly language into his tongue of undying carnal love, I was forced to lounge in our neighborhood park, surrounded by children. - - - She put her two hands over her ribs to hold her heart in place and also out of modesty to quiet its immodest thud. After Paley’s first collection, there was some kind of pressure on her to write a novel, instead a short stories. Having read that first collection, I find that a painful misfit of author and style. Alas that novel never happened. Instead, this collection came out, and it certainly feels as if this is the scraps of a novel. The stories are longer, paced slower, less voice, more thoughtful and reflective but extremely intense at the sentence level. In the center story, Faith in a Tree, Faith sits up on a tree limb in playground, a mother watching her children and other parents and life around the playground. Each paragraph, each interaction has so much weight. In my favorite story, A Conversation with My Father she writes about story telling. Her father tells her: ”I would like you to write a simple story just once more…the kind like Maupassant wrote, or Checkov, the kind you used to write. Just recognizable people and then write down what happened to them next.” And after she tries with some back and forth he is moved by the "Poor woman, Poor girl, to be born in a time of fools, to live among fools.", not realizing he is capturing his daughter, but he also concludes, “I see you can’t tell a plain story. So don’t waste time.” My thoughts on finishing, as I posted on Goodreads, were: “This collection feels like a failed novel, it’s the splinters that couldn’t come together. It was too intense. So she took out the sparkling stand alone pieces, shoved some other stories in the gaps and called it a collection. Of course I got that all wrong, but posting it anyway." - Later the Same Day (1985) Once I thought, Oh, I’ll iron his underwear. I’ve heard of that being done, but I couldn’t find the cord. I haven’t needed to iron in years because of famous American science, which gives us wash-and-wear in one test tube and nerve gas in the other. Its right test tube doesn’t know what its left test tube is doing. - - - A few hot human truthful words are powerful enough, Ann thinks, to steam all God’s chemical mistakes and society’s slimy lies out of her life. We all believe in that power, my friends and I, but sometimes...the heat. A different personality writes these stories. The author is older, toned down and so disappointed in life, but can’t get herself to say it. It worth taking a moment to think how different life was for a feminist and activist liberal in 1959 versus and 1985, and yet Paley takes no time to look at the positives, only life experience and aging, and disappointment creeps in. All of her stories have a slim tether to really, breaking off in various ways without breaking the stories, but this collection goes the farthest, its the collection that most shows an author frustrated with the limits of story telling. It’s like the story isn’t saying enough, so she randomly grabs something nearby and incongruously tosses into the story in a desperate effort to make a point that can’t quite be said, but without breaking rhythm. These stories lack the raw power of her first collection and even of her second, but maintain a complexity and develop a maturity. Who has Grace Paley become after all these times? She tells about Faith in 3rd person, bitterly and superficially through the voice of a racist old Jewish man, who recalls she was “once beautiful”: “She looks O.K. now, but not so hot. Well, what can you do, time takes a terrible toll off the ladies.” I don’t know Paley’s life story, but her short story publication would stop here. The novel idea was entombed. She would publish poetry, scraps of which she had integrated into her short stories here, and she would remain an activist. She would publish this book of selected storied in 1994. But it seems the published story telling would go silent until her passing in 2007 Silence —the space that follows unkindness in which little truths growl.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    While Grace Paley's often grouped with Raymond Carver, the comparisons really aren't that many. In fact, her early stories bear few comparisons, and it's rather wonderful to see Grace Paley evolve as a writer over the course of these stories, from very much a New York Jewish-ghetto writer of the '50s a la Malamud to an '80s minimalist (without falling into the cliches that accompanied that particular literary movement). But, rather than coming off as a follower of fashion, she has the same While Grace Paley's often grouped with Raymond Carver, the comparisons really aren't that many. In fact, her early stories bear few comparisons, and it's rather wonderful to see Grace Paley evolve as a writer over the course of these stories, from very much a New York Jewish-ghetto writer of the '50s a la Malamud to an '80s minimalist (without falling into the cliches that accompanied that particular literary movement). But, rather than coming off as a follower of fashion, she has the same interests throughout-- daughterhood, leftist politics, and the difficulties of being a decent human in the face of evil.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Ward

    Grace Paley – The Collected Stories Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994 The late Grace Paley was a woman filled with life and experiences bursting from every seam. The Collected Stories is praised as a finely polished group of Paley’s short stories that let the reader into the small, everyday moments of her life, however the stories did not entirely live up to their reputation. They are certainly a window into a conversation over eggs in the kitchen, or a loving moment between mother and son on the Grace Paley – The Collected Stories Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994 The late Grace Paley was a woman filled with life and experiences bursting from every seam. The Collected Stories is praised as a finely polished group of Paley’s short stories that let the reader into the small, everyday moments of her life, however the stories did not entirely live up to their reputation. They are certainly a window into a conversation over eggs in the kitchen, or a loving moment between mother and son on the sofa, but they fail to fully entrance the reader and allow them into Paley’s world. There are a few strengths, however, that help show Paley’s natural talent. She makes use of witty humor and uses time in an extremely playful way throughout the entire collection. A common difficulty that Paley encountered with short stories is providing all the details of the experience to the reader in limited words. Each short tale in The Collected Stories seems to flow with the easygoing, content theme. There is a sense of poverty and great struggles, but also a satisfaction that Faith, a main character, has with her life. There seems to be a very slight, but noticeable, disconnection between the reader and the experience. This seems, in part, due to the constant stream of thought involved in most of her short stories. It is almost as if all the reader is listening to one common stream of consciousness and thought that the multiple characters walk in and out of without proper introduction. Though a very innovative style of writing for her time, this becomes confusing and overwhelming. Various stories are told without a single use of quotation for the dialogue. Since the bulk of the stories contain a great deal of dialogue, they become difficult to follow. By the time the reader can discern between the characters the story is over. In short stories, it is also hard to provide the right amount of tension and conflict within the time limitations. Paley seems to allow the easygoing style of life seep into her writing and prevent it from truly captivating the reader. All the stories lack a tension necessary for the book to turn its own pages. Though there is never a monumental moment defines the character’s circumstances as in a novel, an internal struggle should still be present. The struggle between Faith’s motherly duties and need for solitary freedom in “A Subject of Childhood,” from “Two Short Sad Stories From a Long and Happy Life,” is the greatest evidence of tension Paley provides. This scene provides simply, blunt descriptions and language that is easy to see the events taking place. Overall, the disconnection between the reader and stories, along with the lack of tension provided a rough foundation. The collection had a few shining moments, but was difficult to finish and uneventful. It is evident that Paley has a natural talent and the potential to produce great works, but there are very few contained in this compilation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    There are three short story collections gathered in this single hard cover. I am going to locate my reviews in their original individual books: The Little Disturbances of Man was first published in 1959 and is reviewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Enormous Changes at the Last Minute was first published in 1974 and is reviewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Later the Same Day was first published in 1985 and is reviewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... All three There are three short story collections gathered in this single hard cover. I am going to locate my reviews in their original individual books: The Little Disturbances of Man was first published in 1959 and is reviewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Enormous Changes at the Last Minute was first published in 1974 and is reviewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Later the Same Day was first published in 1985 and is reviewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... All three books receive five stars from me. Later the Same Day has, by far, the most left wing political allusions so is my favorite of the three. Many of the same characters appear in many of the stories in all three books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    It'll be "current" when it arrives from Amazon in a couple of days. Thanks to sister Connie for the gift card that JUST covered the cost of the one hardbound they had in stock - cool! Another mini-icon of the mid-20th century, and so far little read by me. Only a story or two at the most. Got this today from Amazon via Julia's Book Store in North Las Vegas, Nevada - bet it's warmer there than it is here today! Read the first tale last night -excellent! GP is free with her prose and the eschewing It'll be "current" when it arrives from Amazon in a couple of days. Thanks to sister Connie for the gift card that JUST covered the cost of the one hardbound they had in stock - cool! Another mini-icon of the mid-20th century, and so far little read by me. Only a story or two at the most. Got this today from Amazon via Julia's Book Store in North Las Vegas, Nevada - bet it's warmer there than it is here today! Read the first tale last night -excellent! GP is free with her prose and the eschewing of some punctuation. Takes a while to get "into" the flow. Read another(#2) last night. Ms Paley reminds me of Nabokov and the guy who wrote "The Magic Barrel" - Bernard Malamud. Pretty good company! Once you "get" her idea of writing/communication and imagine she's right there telling you a story it flows nicely. Still having fun here despite the occasional "whaaaa?" bafflement at the meaning of some semi-sentence or such like. GP lets the words flow in a semi-experimental way at times. At a LOT of times, in fact. Got back to this after taking a few days break. Last night's reading brought me up against the Grace Paley who apparently liked to stray occasionally over the "line" from eccentric-but-still-"normal" prose into something more experimental/poetic and delirious. I lowered my rating to 4* because of this. I can't say that I "didn't like" it, but I can't say the opposite either. I hope there's not too much more of it, in any case. Last night's story continued in the experimental prose mode. Meh ... Seems like the author is trying too hard to meld prose with poetry with stream-of-consciousness. Still enjoying my time in Grace-land, but still not sure how much I like her streamy-dreamy way with words. She definitely catches the feeling of 1950's street life in ... Brooklyn? the Bronx? Perhaps she gives herself a bit too much poetic license - for MY taste. Last night's reading(The Distance) was excellent. It follows a line of some other stories so far that follow the life of a character named Dolly who has a philandering son in the building trades in New Jersey. More of that free-flowing poetic prose thing. Read "Faith in the Afternoon," one of the longer stories thus far. A melancholy(also funny) mediation on life and family - i.e. - the usual. I'm back at this one after leaving off to read other stuff. At any rate it's back to the half/half prose/poetry stuff. She does it about as well as anybody can. Works for me, for the most part, though it can be hard to follow-swallow at times. Getting back into this now that I've finished "Voss." Last night's reading included "Enormous Changes at the last Minute," which is also the title of one of her books. Good stuff ... Last night's reading included "The Little Girl," a SERIOUSLY nasty story. All about the perils of clueless youth and sex in the big city. Is it racist???? Reminded me of "Taxi Driver." Still reading, still excellent. Aaaaalllllmost done after last night, but I had to go to bed. Will finish tonight. Finished last night with this interesting, challenging book. Tough to read at any length at one time because the "stories" are so short. Lots of poetry is at times mixed up with the prose. The style is also intimate, imaginative and occasionally annoying as one tries to figure out who is saying what to whom. - 4.25* rounds down to 4*.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Spring is a great time to be reading Grace Paley. Her skittish snapshots of lives lived in (often cheerful) disarray woke my brain right out of its winter hibernation. These aren’t stories to curl up with on a cold evening, although there’s real warmth to Paley’s writing; you need all your wits about you as a reader, to get the most out of this collection. Two short sad stories from a long and happy life: A subject of childhood tells of a moment in the life of Faith, a woman who reappears in Spring is a great time to be reading Grace Paley. Her skittish snapshots of lives lived in (often cheerful) disarray woke my brain right out of its winter hibernation. These aren’t stories to curl up with on a cold evening, although there’s real warmth to Paley’s writing; you need all your wits about you as a reader, to get the most out of this collection. Two short sad stories from a long and happy life: A subject of childhood tells of a moment in the life of Faith, a woman who reappears in several of Paley’s short stories. Divorced, a mother with a variety of lovers, Faith is a touchstone for the reader, a linking thread across the stories Paley tells. Always on the brink of some great freedom, Faith is tied first by her status as a single woman, then as a mother struggling to raise two small boys without losing her sense of self, finally as a woman of fifty whose boys are men, political, pessimistic, reminders of her still-unraveling life. It’s easy to love Faith, with her cloudy self-knowledge and her fretful honesty. Finding her in a new story further into the collection was the closest I came to feeling ‘settled’ while reading the book. But ‘settled’ is over-valued. Read the rest of my review here: http://www.theshortreview.com/reviews...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shane

    This wasn't an easy book to read, as the style was very spoken-stream of consciousness, as if the various narrators were involved in a fragmented dialogue with their readers. I guess it was a new style for its time - I am not sure however that it can endure. In the end I want a story. I found some of the shorter pieces began in one place and landed somewhere completely diffferent, with new information provided just before they ended, thereby altering the traditional structure of story. The This wasn't an easy book to read, as the style was very spoken-stream of consciousness, as if the various narrators were involved in a fragmented dialogue with their readers. I guess it was a new style for its time - I am not sure however that it can endure. In the end I want a story. I found some of the shorter pieces began in one place and landed somewhere completely diffferent, with new information provided just before they ended, thereby altering the traditional structure of story. The Yiddish, feminist voice was quirky and original, and in some places the language was "very blue" to reflect the characters. I found the women fell in love rather quickly in some stories and I wondered if that was part of the '50's culture of being conservative about revealing intimacy. I am sure that Grace Paley was originial for her time, and that her writing certainly would have stretched the short story genre, but these were not stories for me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    the stories are small in scale--domestic settings; blocks, neighborhood playgrounds--but she fills them with rich, aphoristic asides that are not only cosmically wise but really funny. it's interesting, for all the second-person, interiority-oriented writing, paley's stories are fundamentally social. you get to know the characters, sure, but you never really feel inside them, you only have the pleasure of sharing the room with them. the best part is that none of them are outrightly exceptional; the stories are small in scale--domestic settings; blocks, neighborhood playgrounds--but she fills them with rich, aphoristic asides that are not only cosmically wise but really funny. it's interesting, for all the second-person, interiority-oriented writing, paley's stories are fundamentally social. you get to know the characters, sure, but you never really feel inside them, you only have the pleasure of sharing the room with them. the best part is that none of them are outrightly exceptional; that, of course, is kinda her stroke of genius--the weight of the small story.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    I found the variety of styles in this weirdly hit-and-miss. When she's good, she is EXCELLENT, but when she's not excellent she's often engaged in experiments I'm not terribly interested in, or pursuing increasingly long tangents that don't engage me. I think I'd have felt differently had I listened to her reading aloud before and during the process of reading these stories, so I had her voice in my head, they wouldn't have felt quite as disconnected as they did.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I really wanted to like this. I got it sent across an ocean just so I could teach one of the stories in a class of mine. However, the story that I knew and loved was the only one that I found even readable, except for a few of the shortest 2-4 page stories. I am being literal, I could not finish the majority of even these SHORT stories. Her use of language is so bizarre, so simply not English. Occasional quirks show a window into another perspective, but these constant verbal inventions I really wanted to like this. I got it sent across an ocean just so I could teach one of the stories in a class of mine. However, the story that I knew and loved was the only one that I found even readable, except for a few of the shortest 2-4 page stories. I am being literal, I could not finish the majority of even these SHORT stories. Her use of language is so bizarre, so simply not English. Occasional quirks show a window into another perspective, but these constant verbal inventions literally impede basic communication from story-teller to reader. People more in the know than I have given her heaps of praise, but I can't justify it. And, for a "collected stories", it was missing a story of hers that I had heard being read on the radio.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I've been trying to finish this book for over six months and I just couldn't do it. I had to give up even though I read more than 300 pages. The stories have fragmented plots and dialogues making them difficult to follow. I know Paley is supposed to be a revolutionary story writer in terms of her style and her ear for dialogue but I could not get into this. Not an enjoyable read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    I can't believe it took me so long to read Grace Paley. She passes away a couple weeks ago, and having tackled just a small percentage of her work up to this point, I can truly comprehend the loss felt by the literary world. So strong, so ahead of her time. One of those writers who make you feel like you never really understood how good a sentence could be.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    Excellent, but not a thing to be consumed all at once. Since it's been months, I could probably dip into this again.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Denise E.

    I really like how George Saunders is taking up the mantle of Grace Paley these days. He called her "one of the great writers of voice of the last century" and also a "secular saint" (!) in this New Yorker review: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-t.... I haven't read that much of Saunders but he has this "vernacular" and "direct" way of writing sometimes that is very similar to hers. Only she's much more delicate - I think he is more overtly political and trying to push people's buttons, I really like how George Saunders is taking up the mantle of Grace Paley these days. He called her "one of the great writers of voice of the last century" and also a "secular saint" (!) in this New Yorker review: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-t.... I haven't read that much of Saunders but he has this "vernacular" and "direct" way of writing sometimes that is very similar to hers. Only she's much more delicate - I think he is more overtly political and trying to push people's buttons, whereas she writes mostly about relationships and capturing the essences of specific encounters between people (but I guess also pushing buttons). She's a little bit like Muriel Spark who I am also reading these days, in that there is literally not a single note out of place, but while Spark is a little bit dry, Paley has this sort of dark humor that feels very New Yorky. Paley herself was a Jewish-American who grew up in New York (I think?), so as a New Yorker, her stories extremely tapped into the way living here feels. She writes with a great empathy and expectation that anything could happen at any given moment, but her stories are very short and the characters are constantly reeling in different directions. I'm not doing it any kind of justice, but just go read it! She's very important, very good.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian Clegg

    A while ago on Facebook some of my friends with far more experience in good fiction than me were enthusing over the short story writing of Grace Paley, so I determined to give her writing a go. I'm glad I did - but, if I'm honest, the stories just don't work for me and I gave up about two thirds of the way through. I had two problems with these mostly short short stories set in a seedy period New York (contemporary when written) - the style and the content. The style problems were a mix of A while ago on Facebook some of my friends with far more experience in good fiction than me were enthusing over the short story writing of Grace Paley, so I determined to give her writing a go. I'm glad I did - but, if I'm honest, the stories just don't work for me and I gave up about two thirds of the way through. I had two problems with these mostly short short stories set in a seedy period New York (contemporary when written) - the style and the content. The style problems were a mix of language and Paley trying a bit too hard to be 'literary'. As far as language goes, the experience of reading this was a little like reading Shakespeare - it takes a while to tune into the style - the use of words here just isn't quite normal. All too often I'd have to read a phrase two or three times and would still think 'I haven't a clue what that means.' Because I was having to concentrate on every word, the reading experience was less enjoyable than usual and it also meant that I found myself going into editing mode: 'That's a comma splice - how could she do that! There shouldn't be a capital letter after that colon!' Perhaps worst of all, I hate the affectation that Paley regularly exhibits of writing speech without inverted commas. Sometimes the writing verged on the arch with statements such as 'Nighttime came and communication was revived at last by our doorbell, which is full of initiative.' No it's not. As for content, I'll be honest I'm not particularly interested in what it was like to live in the poor parts of New York back in the day, but more critically it's the type of content that doesn't do it for me. I'd draw a parallel with a run-in I had with BBC Radio 4's series The Listening Project. Some while ago I was on Radio 4's Feedback programme moaning about The Listening Project, which I find deadly dull. I called it Big Brother for the chattering classes, as it replaces well-written material with the wonders of 'reality', but in a very middle class way. The content of Paley's stories provides soap opera for the same kind of audience. And that's just not something that engages me. I don't deny that these are well-crafted stories, or that some will find them wonderful. I hope you will. They just don't work for me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matt Hlinak

    The most distinctive story in this collection is “A Man Told Me the Story of His Life.” Although the title and first two words of the story are told by an unidentified narrator, the rest of the piece is presented in the voice of Vicente. Paley’s use of diction conveys information about the character that goes beyond what we learn from his narrative. The manner of Vicente’s speech makes it clear that English is not his first language. It is at times overly formal, such as when he proclaims, “Oh, The most distinctive story in this collection is “A Man Told Me the Story of His Life.” Although the title and first two words of the story are told by an unidentified narrator, the rest of the piece is presented in the voice of Vicente. Paley’s use of diction conveys information about the character that goes beyond what we learn from his narrative. The manner of Vicente’s speech makes it clear that English is not his first language. It is at times overly formal, such as when he proclaims, “Oh, how I long to be a doctor.” He also uses improper syntax, such as “She must be operated immediately.” It is through his speech that we learn that this is an immigrant’s story, even though the narrative never tells us this (except perhaps by the description of the school system). While Vicente’s diction marks him as an immigrant, Paley resists the urge to overdo it. He probably speaks with an accent, but we do not see any mispronunciations on the page, which would have been distracting and created the impression that Vicente was not intelligent. His speech consistently strikes native ears as a little off, but it is not excessively so. For example, Vicente says “with my whole heart” instead of “with all of my heart.” The two phrases mean exactly the same thing, but the latter is a commonly used English idiom, while the former is not. In terms of grammar and vocabulary, Vicente’s English is good, but only these matters of nuance mark him as a non-native speaker. Paley’s touch is so light, though, we can’t even tell what his first language is (although his name suggests Spanish or Italian). The effect of this light touch is that the story feels more like a fable about a universal immigrant, rather than a specific story about a man from a particular country.

  20. 4 out of 5

    jesse

    Oh, as time went on, as our responsibilities increased, we didn't go in need. You took adaquate financial care, I reminded him. The children went to camp four weeks a year and in decent ponchos with sleeping bags and boots, just like everyone else. They looked very nice. Our place was warm in winter, and we had nice red pillows and things. I wanted a sailboat, he said. But you didn't want anything. Don't be bitter, I said. It's never too late. No, he said with a great deal of bitterness. I may get Oh, as time went on, as our responsibilities increased, we didn't go in need. You took adaquate financial care, I reminded him. The children went to camp four weeks a year and in decent ponchos with sleeping bags and boots, just like everyone else. They looked very nice. Our place was warm in winter, and we had nice red pillows and things. I wanted a sailboat, he said. But you didn't want anything. Don't be bitter, I said. It's never too late. No, he said with a great deal of bitterness. I may get a sailboat. As a matter of fact I have money down on an eighteen-foot two-rigger. I'm doing well this year and can look forward to better. But for you, it's too late. You'll always want nothing. He had a habit throughout the twenty-seven years of making a narrow remark which, like a plumber's snake, could work its way through the ear down the throat, halfway to my heart. He would then disappear, leaving me choking with equipment. What I mean is, I sat down on the library steps and he went away.

  21. 4 out of 5

    D S

    Grace Paley's Faith putting her curvilinear shoulder to the wheel, leafleting, child-bearing. The truth bubbles up from these incomplete, tantalizing accounts of this and that. It floats up lighter than the base materials that ground a life and it is of them too. Paley's aching, floating truths are situated in the deli sandwich realm, where one smiles a burned-over zen smile or one doesn't smile at all as one takes one's change. “Of course, because of this planet, which is dropping away from us Grace Paley's Faith putting her curvilinear shoulder to the wheel, leafleting, child-bearing. The truth bubbles up from these incomplete, tantalizing accounts of this and that. It floats up lighter than the base materials that ground a life and it is of them too. Paley's aching, floating truths are situated in the deli sandwich realm, where one smiles a burned-over zen smile or one doesn't smile at all as one takes one's change. “Of course, because of this planet, which is dropping away from us in poisonous disgust, I’m hardly ever home.” … “I thought, Oh, man, in the very center of your life, still fitting your skin so nicely, with your arms probably in a soft cotton shirt and the shirt in an old tweed jacket and your cock lying along your thigh in either your right or left pants leg, it’s hard to tell which, why have you slipped out of my sentimental and carnal grasp?” … “You are my friend, I know that, Faith, but I promise you, I won’t forgive you, she said. From now on, I’ll watch you like a hawk. I do not forgive you.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Saxon

    Paley's stories revolve around the everyday lives of everyday people with a focus on women and yiddish culture in NYC. While she only wrote short stories, reoccurring characters constantly appear adding a level of cohesive continuity with each each story. Almost all of the stories take place around World War 2 and after all the way up to the mid 60s leading to socio-political themes that undercut each piece. However, this isn't Paley's MO. She's interested in the real lives of real people and Paley's stories revolve around the everyday lives of everyday people with a focus on women and yiddish culture in NYC. While she only wrote short stories, reoccurring characters constantly appear adding a level of cohesive continuity with each each story. Almost all of the stories take place around World War 2 and after all the way up to the mid 60s leading to socio-political themes that undercut each piece. However, this isn't Paley's MO. She's interested in the real lives of real people and naturally conversations of the day, which are often political and social in nature, make up much of the dialogue. It's sometimes difficult to find the conflict in Paley's stories much beyond the conflict that is living, which proves to be quite enough for her and the more patient reader. Add a bit of surrealism and quick, 1st-person narration full of colloquialisms and slang, and you got one of the most unique voices I have read in American literature.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Giulia (juliareadingdiary)

    I’d recommend to pick only one of Paley’s short story collections and focus on that; all these stories together in a 500-pages book felt too much for me, they mixed up in my mind after a while and felt repetitive. This is also because there is no particular evolution in the writing and themes of the stories, even if they are from three different collections that span through three decades, so after a while it’s like reading the same thing over and over again. This is a shame because Grace Paley I’d recommend to pick only one of Paley’s short story collections and focus on that; all these stories together in a 500-pages book felt too much for me, they mixed up in my mind after a while and felt repetitive. This is also because there is no particular evolution in the writing and themes of the stories, even if they are from three different collections that span through three decades, so after a while it’s like reading the same thing over and over again. This is a shame because Grace Paley is a very good narrator and she can craft realistic characters, presenting precise every-day situations as if they were photographs. She has an ability to describe complex feelings in one line by pulling together unexpected words that feel extremely relatable. I think that Enormous Changes at the Last Minute can be a perfect place to start with Grace Paley, and if you become a huge fan of her writing it can be interesting to read all her remaining production.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Paley has an incredible wit and a talent for expressing the complex political nature of women's lives. I loved her stories because they are simultaneously hysterical and sad, kind of like life in general. My favorite book growing up was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I think I like Paley because she resonates with me in the same way as ATGIB did, only I've grown up since then and Paley reflects this process of maturation. They both tell the story of "old New York," from the 1930s, to the 1970s, on Paley has an incredible wit and a talent for expressing the complex political nature of women's lives. I loved her stories because they are simultaneously hysterical and sad, kind of like life in general. My favorite book growing up was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I think I like Paley because she resonates with me in the same way as ATGIB did, only I've grown up since then and Paley reflects this process of maturation. They both tell the story of "old New York," from the 1930s, to the 1970s, on the island, the South Bronx and even BK. Plus, as a Gentile with more than one Jewish ex-boyfrined in the past, I enjoyed the glimpse into one woman's telling of Jewish culture. I had many favorites, but one was the long distance runner and I also loved the story about Faith visiting her parents in the home.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vonetta

    Did I read every story in this book? No. You know why? Because I couldn't stomach the goodness any longer. Really. I, in all honesty, need to let what I did read soak in real good before I continue. If I may use the vernacular: Paley is messed up. These stories are messed the hell up in the most wonderful kinds of ways: characters, dialogue, ridiculous plots. I need to swallow down some other works before I can continue, but I'm excited to pick this book back up soon.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    A fantastic collection of stories, full of voices, humans, people. interconnected by a handful of recurring characters, preeminently Faith, an author surrogate i suppose but also an intelligent, political, loving single mother finding her way from moderately young womanhood through to middle age in new york city and life. the collection includes all three of paley's books of stories, spanning 35 years or so of writing and maybe a similar span in the lives of the characters.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    Wow. I had no idea Grace Paley was so compelling. I'd always heard her name tossed around Alice Munro's and thought they had a similar in prose style. But they don't. I particularly like her short shorts - puzzling and fireworky, slightly off-putting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ted Krever

    Grace Paley tells wonderful stories that leave you in the middle, wondering what the hell happened. For a writer, she's the master class in what to say and what to withhold. And such a voice! The Bronx births great storytellers and she's one of the best.

  29. 4 out of 5

    First Second Books

    She's a magician. She does things with the English language that I can't explain, but they're transporting and haunting and they color your life for days after reading them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anina

    I just love about 1/3 of her stuff and am baffled by the rest of it.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.