RIP Grace Paley

I’m very sad. I haven’t read enough of her works. Though what I have read I’ve loved. I did meet her when she came to the J a few years ago. There is a very inappropriate and sadly funny story about it. Which I refuse to type.

One of my co-workers just sent around an excerpt from her piece MIDRASH ON HAPPINESS. I remember her reading this when I saw her. There is something about this peice that blows me away. It’s so simple and yet so true. It’s what I want. It’s what I belive. Enjoy:

What she meant by happiness, she said, was the following: she meant having (or having had) (or continuing to have) everything. By everything, she meant, first, the children, then a dear person to live with, preferably a man (by live with, she meant for a long time but not necessarily). Along with and not in preferential order, she required three or four best women friends to whom she could tell every personal fact and then discuss on the widest deepest and most hopeless level, the economy, the constant, unbeatable, cruel war economy, the slavery of the American worker …..the complicity of male people in the whole structure, the dumbness of men (including her preferred man) on the subject. By dumbness, she meant everything dumbness has always meant: silence and stupidity. By silence she meant refusal to speak; by stupidity she meant refusal to hear. For happiness she required women to walk with. To walk in the city arm in arm with a woman friend (as her mother had with aunts and cousins so many years ago) was just plain essential. Oh those long walks and intimate talks, better than standing alone on the most admirable mountain or in the handsomest forest or hay-blown field …..

I forgot, she said,….I would die without love. By love she probably meant she would die without being in love. By love she probably meant the acuteness of the heart at the sudden sight of a particular person or the way over a couple of years of interested friendship one is suddenly stunned by the lungs’ longing for more and more breath in the presence of that friend, or nearly drowned to the knees by the salty spring that seems to beat for years …..Not to omit all sorts of imaginings which assure great spiritual energy for months and when luck follows truth, years.


One Response to RIP Grace Paley

  1. natalie says:


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