Tuesday 14 October 2014

Scanning the shelves I stopped at Grace Paley. Enormous Changes At The Last Minute. Why? Yesterday I met a woman who said she was a housewife, a sink wife, she added, I'm married to that sink. She said it without bitterness, but verging on a little black humour or domestic abyss wryness. She had eight children, all grown, and three freezers. Her husband grew a great array of fruit and she processed it all as she had processed the children.

I could wish that woman a read of Grace Paley. If she's not locked in the fruit cage or on her way to mass.

Although in my adult life I have neither children nor obvious politics other than what rises from my garden, I prepared for Grace Paley in my mother's kitchen once or twice a week when I came home from school, attending the chat between women over a cup of tea. It could be acid but it was always lyrical; they flowed with their opinions. They only had till five o'clock or so.

Grace Paley's stories are in this zone. As a writer she travels light: like my mother and her friends, this is all she's got time for.
As for you, fellow independent thinker of the Western Bloc, if you have anything sensible to say, don't wait. Shout it out loud right this minute. In twenty years, give or take a spring, your grandchildren will be lying in sandboxes all over the world, their ears to the ground, listening for signals from long ago.
I'm alert to this sense of having your say. As fundamental to a writer as to Beethoven. Marguerite Duras had her say, but she's harsher, she's french, she travels along lacunae. Grace Paley is warmer, more optimistic. She has common sense and energy I recognize. She stops short but the warmth still flows.
A woman inside the steamy energy of middle age runs and runs. She finds the houses and streets where her childhood happened. She lives in them. She learns as though she was still a child what in the world is coming next.

1 comment :

  1. Judy, How gorgeous to suddenly walk by and discover, as if lying on a little roadside wall, the little letter that you put there, apparently just an hour and nine minutes ago. Am writing this note with delight before looking at the rest of your goodies on there.