Two stories by Grace Paley you ought to read

Wants

The truth is, I don’t have much of a memory for stories. I’ve read Grace Paley’s Wants, printed here, many many times; but when I came to reread it just now, all I could remember at first was that she returns a couple of years-overdue library books to the library, and then immediately checks them back out again.

But as is the way, once I started reading, things came back to me. About halfway through, I remembered that the husband wanted a sailboat. And, sure enough, the sailboat came up, and it was just as I remembered it, which is to say wonderful.

What I didn’t remember about the story, though, and what I should’ve remembered – because it’s the most powerful part of the whole piece – was her husband telling her, ‘You’ll always want nothing’. To which she writes he had always had a habit ‘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.’

Well, how does one forget a thing like that?

Hunger

Hunger was a piece I thought I’d read before but hadn’t, which is a treat! It’s printed here, and you may need to register with Jstor to take a look. I think they give you six free articles in a month. Hunger’s very nice, and well worth the read, and has an absolute cracking finish.

Anzia Yezierska

I’ve been told that if you like Grace Paley, you should read Anzia Yezierska. You can listen to some of her biography here – a very timely beginning.

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*