Monday, January 11, 2010

Friends – Grace Paley



Grace Paley Dec. 11, 1922 – August 22 2007

To begin with, it was pleasant to see a story in this volume with the focus on a group of women. Elkin has done a nice job in stuffing this book with stories about men. Honestly, I don’t think that he did a fair job in this case. Hey – I’m a man, and I know men, I enjoy reading about women – gives me some more insight – after all, I am using these readings as an education.

Actually, learning about the author of this short was a bit more interesting than the story.

Here are a few lines about Paley from an article about her in the NYT announcing her death in 2007.

-In a sense, her work was about what happened to the women that Roth and Bellow and Malamud’s men had loved and left behind.

- Her stories, many of which are written in the first person and seem to start in mid-conversation, beg to be read aloud.

-Grace’s childhood was noisy and warm. There were stories and songs and glasses of good strong tea. Always, there was glorious argument. The communists hollered at the socialists, the socialists hollered at the Zionists, and everybody hollered at the anarchists.

-A self-described “somewhat combative pacifist and cooperative anarchist,” Ms. Paley was a lifelong advocate of liberal causes. During the Vietnam War, she was jailed several times for antiwar protests; in later years, she lobbied for women’s rights, against nuclear proliferation and, most recently, against the war in Iraq.

Good strong tea! My type of family.

So, the story.

I have wondered what sort of friends I will have left in my old age. Will they be the same friends I have today? With the pace of life and our abilities to relocate and my/our personal/joint desire to live our life someday elsewhere – it seems that say in 40 years, my friends will be different.

When I sit back an look at the circle of friends I have today, I could call it modest. Even that would be a stretch. Could I consider my co-workers “friends”? I suppose a couple could be considered the sort that I could keep in touch with over the years.

I don’t know though if I really have what could be called a true “friend”. I mean all the guys from school are there but as far as a day-to-day friend – that type...? I have a very close relationship with my brother-in-law, and I do call him a friend – but is he only my friend because he is married to my sister? He does so much for us, and provides a ton of support where needed, I can tell him secrets, and I can drink with him...but I think that he is considered family, kinda knocks him into a different category. I mean, there are certain things that I can’t tell him.

I don’t know, I don’t think I really have what I would call a true friend anymore.

Perhaps the person that I am, and the life that I have lived in the past as allowed me to be comfortable with this.

Yeah, it’s OK.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. I don't know how I stumbled across your blog, but I'm glad I did. This is an amazing project. I love the BASS series (well, the three I've devoured--they don't carry the titles here in the Philippines). :]

    I just bought the Collected Stories of Grace Paley at the start of the new year, based on reading just one of her short stories ("Love," it was called--it was so short, so odd, so lyrical, but so striking). I'll be riffling through my copy to look for this one. :]

    You've got a dedicated stalker of your blog here. :]

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