Grace Paley

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Grace Paley (December 11 1922August 22 2007) was an American short story writer, poet, teacher, and political activist. The 1994 edition of her Collected Stories was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Quotes[edit]

  • We made for him a great dinner of honor. At this dinner I said to him, for the last time, I thought, "Goodbye, dear friend, topic of my life, now we part." And to myself I said further: Finished. This is your lonesome bed. A lady what they call fat and fifty. You made it personally. From this lonesome bed you will finally fall to a bed not so lonesome, only crowded with a million bones.
    • "Goodbye and Good Luck" (1959)
  • Peter sighed. He turned the palms of his hands up as though to guess at rain. Anna knew him, theme and choreography. The sunshiny spring afternoon seeped through his fingers. He looked up at the witnessing heavens to keep what he could. He dropped his arms and let the rest go.
    • "The Pale Pink Roast" (1959)
  • Like a good and happy man increasing his virtue, he kissed her. She did not move away from him. She remained in the embrace of his right arm, her face nuzzling his shoulder, her eyes closed. He tipped her chin to look and measure opportunity. She could not open her eyes. Honorably he searched, but on her face he met no quarrel.
    • "The Pale Pink Roast" (1959)
  • In no time at all his cheerful face appeared at the door of the spring dusk. In the street among peaceable strangers he did a handstand. Then easy and impervious, in full control, he cartwheeled eastward into the source of night.
    • "The Pale Pink Roast" (1959)
  • I thank you, Papa, for your kindness. It is true about me to this day. I am foolish but I am not a fool.
    • "The Loudest Voice" (1959)
  • I brought up lonesomeness again, and not being understood at all except by some women everybody hated.
    • "The Loudest Voice" (1959)
  • I am ambitious, but it's a long-range thing with me. I have my confidential sights on a star, but there's half a lifetime to get to it. Meanwhile I keep my eyes open and am well dressed.
    • "The Contest" (1959)
  • My last girl was Jewish, which is often a warm kind of girl, concerned about food intake and employability. They don't like you to work too hard, I understand, until you're hooked and then, you bastard, sweat!
    • "The Contest" (1959)
  • With a few grasping, kind words and a modern gimmick, she hoped to breathe eternity into a mortal matter, love.
    • "The Contest" (1959)
  • I sighed in and I groaned out, so as to melt a certain pain around my heart. A steel ring like arthritis, at my age.
    • "An Interest in Life" (1959)
  • I was happy, but I am now in possession of knowledge that this is wrong. Happiness isn't so bad for a woman. She gets fatter, she gets older, she could lie down, nuzzling a regiment of men and little kids, she could just die of the pleasure. But men are different, they have to own money, or they have to be famous, or everybody on the block has too look up to them from the cellar stairs.
    • "An Interest in Life" (1959)
  • It is still hard to believe that a man who sends out the Ten Commandments every year for a Christmas card can be so easy buttoning and unbuttoning.
    • "An Interest in Life" (1959)
  • He settles in the kitchen because the children are asleep all over the rest of the house. I unknot his tie and offer him a cold sandwich. He raps my backside, paying attention to the bounce. I walk around him as though he were a Maypole, kissing as I go.
    • "An Interest in Life" (1959)
  • I thought of praying for divine guidance in line with the great spiritual renaissance of our time. But I am all thumbs in that kind of deciduous conversation. I asked myself, did I, as God's creature under the stars, have the right to evade an event, a factual occurrence, to parry an experience or even a small peradventure.
    • "An Irrevocable Diameter" (1959)
  • But I do like this language -- wheat and chaff -- with its widening pool of foreign genes, and since I never have had any occasion to say “comestible,” it was pleasurable to think it.
    • "The Story Hearer"
  • Don’t you wish you could rise powerfully above your time and name? I’m sure we all try, but here we are, always slipping and falling down into them, speaking their narrow language, though the subject, which is how to save the world--and quickly--is immense.
    • "The Story Hearer"
  • [He] had invented a pinball machine. When we saw it, we said, George! This is not a pinball machine alone. This is the poem of a pinball machine, the essence made delicately concrete, and so forth.”
    • "This Is a Story about My Friend George, the Toy Inventor"
  • No, George said, you don’t understand. The pinball machine--any pinball machine you play in any penny arcade--is so remarkable, so fine, so shrewdly threaded. It is already beautiful in necessity and sufficiency of wire, connection, possibility.
    • "This Is a Story about My Friend George, the Toy Inventor"
  • Thank God for the head. The head is the only place you got to be young when the usual place gets used up.
    • "Zagrowsky Tells"
  • It’s hard to stand behind a people and culture in revolutionary transition when you are constantly worried about their irreplaceable and breakable artifacts.
    • "The Expensive Moment"
  • [Wild] with a dream of wildness.
    • "The Expensive Moment"
  • What is this crap, Mother, this life is short and terrible. What is this metaphysical shit, what is this disease you intelligentsia are always talking about.
    First we said: Intelligentsia! Us? Oh, the way words lie down under decades, then the Union of Restless Diggers out of sheer insomnia pulls them up: daggers for the young but to us they look like flowers of nostalgia that grew in our mother’s foreign garden. What did my mother say? Darling, you should have come to Town Hall last night, the whole intelligentsia was there. My uncle, strictly: the intelligentsia will never permit it.!
    • "Listening"
  • People do want to be young and beautiful. When they meet in the street, male or female, if they're getting older they look at each other's face a little ashamed. It's clear they want to say, Excuse me, I didn't mean to draw attention to mortality and gravity all at once. I didn't want to remind you, my dear friend, of our coming eviction, first from liveliness, then from life. To which, most of the time, the friend's eyes will courteously reply, My dear, it's nothing at all. I hardly noticed.
    • "Friends"
  • The organization of his ideas was all wrong; I was drawn to the memory of myself -- a mere stripling of a girl -- the day I learned that the shortest distance between any two points was a great circle.
    • "The Floating Truth"
  • Well, a wish, some wish, Ruth said. Well, I wished that this world wouldn’t end. This world, this world, Ruth said softly.
    • "Friends"

External links[edit]

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