farewell, Grace

This was a person.

That's a phrase we dole out carefully - and rarely - in our home. It doesn't apply to many folks these days. But it perfectly captures the spirit and purpose of Grace Paley's life and writing; and it immediately came to mind when we learned of Grace Paley's death late last week.

The last time I "saw" Ms. Paley was at Symphony Space in 1995. She hosted an evening of readings from her Collected Stories. (I've saved the program in my copy of the book.) The selections that night were: "The Pale Pink Roast", read by Linda Lavin; "Friends", read by Tandy Cronyn; and "Wants", read by Maria Tucci.

During the upcoming holidays, as we laugh and cry our way through "The Loudest Voice" (perhaps our favorite Grace Paley short story), we'll do so with special gratitude for this extraordinary woman who wrote so brilliantly about ordinary life - and who lived in response to her deepest convictions.

from Regina Hackett at seattlepi.com: "With [Grace Paley's] passing, there aren't many of her ilk left on earth, those New York socialist Jewish activists of a literary bent who never gave up their elbows-out fight for the underdog and never passed up the opportunity to indulge an undignified belly laugh. In her stories, they live on, fortitude rewarded."

A person, indeed.

(photo courtesy of msmagazine.com)


Brilliant Asylum said...

How wonderful to have been at a reading.

Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, absolutely.