Grace Paley Archive

In Remembrance of Brian Doyle

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When the prolific author Brian Doyle passed away last month, American Letters lost not only a talented writer in Doyle, but also a waning parochial worldview.

Why Write Short Stories?

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Much like our lives, short stories are brief and end abruptly. They summon entire worlds in just a few pages and then bow out, with startling precision and compression. It is a delicate balance, and such delicate work requires small hands.

Fiction Responding to Fiction: Paley and Hempel

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Grace Paley’s work has influenced many writers, both her contemporaries and those who followed. Amy Hempel has spoken often about Paley’s imprint on her work. For Hempel’s story “Today Will Be a Quiet Day,” Hempel has identified one Paley story as being particularly important.

Long and Short of It

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In the term short story, “short” is a little baggy. You might find, within a collection of short stories, some that are a few pages, some that are thirty or more. Compared to a five-hundred-page novel, of course, neither of these is a long piece of writing. Both are

Grace Paley’s “Wants”: Activism and Civic Involvement for Writers

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  After years of dodging PTO meetings and volunteer opportunities, I became involved in a school overcrowding issue in my town because I didn’t want my children’s class sizes to become enormous. The problem seemed simple at first, but soon enough I was attending school committee meetings, spending hours

Writers with Responsibilities: Ode to the Late Bloomers

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Julia Child didn’t start cooking until she was close to forty and I didn’t either. For me it wasn’t the Le Cordon Blue School, but a need to finally be heard. I found my voice after my fourth child was born. I stopped telling tales at the bus stop

Writers With Responsibilities: Be Who You Are

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Dear Sally, Do you have the magic spell that can inspire me to write again? I have not written anything in so long. Whenever I write about parenting or families, I feel like “this has all been said before. Why write about it?” I also find that it’s been

From the Slush Pile: What’d She Say?

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So, we’ve talked about the beginning, the end, pluck, resiliency, and life—and yet here we are, still, wading through the slush pile. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? The world may never know, and how to have a reader pass