23 August 2007

From Jewish Socialism to a Beautiful Pacifism

Grace Paley has passed away. Most well-known as a master of the "short short story," Paley lived a long life as a committed anti-war activist, an enduring inspiration to many, myself included. She was one of the last of a generation of radical pacifists who came of age in the Popular Front years, was galvanized by militarization of American society in the WWII- and post-war years and eventually reached prominence during the Vietnam War as a younger generation was nourished by their insights.

Everyone should read (or re-read) Enormous Changes at the Last Minute and Just as I Thought this weekend, if not earlier. I know I'll be making the trip to the Library of Foreign Literatures here to do so. I especially recommend the latter work, as her non-fiction--as sparse and charming as her short stories--is especially revealing of her feminist and pacifist convictions. This point is only slightly touched on in the NYT obituary. (The CBC scored higher on this note, not surprisingly, I suppose.)


JW said...

This is a very interesting blog. I've subscribed to read it regularly.

BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

JW, Glad to hear that you are enjoying it.

McFry said...

by chance, i had visited the 'Bread and Puppet' establishment in Glover, Vermont [Northeast Kingdom] right around the time of her passing. the final circus event of the summer was happening in the large outdoor amphitheater on the land. there were alot of somber and serious skits and performances as well as fun and silly ones.
someone recited Grace Paley 's poem "Responsibility" to audible expressions of emotion from the audience.
later, i saw that there was a memorial to her within that beautiful, haunting grove of pines on the property there.
this was my introduction to her and then i came home and found your entry & so i will have to investigate further.

have you been up to the B&P place in your travels? it's worth a look i think.

BusterPh.D.Candidate said...

Alas, trips to Vermont aren't scheduled for any time soon. I haven't been to the B&P place. I should.

I'm actually still kicking myself for not trying to go visit GP before her death to talk about Paul Goodman and related notes, but that's how these things go, I guess. I remember when Elwood El Encanto tried to make me get in a car to drive to LA and meet Charles Bukowski in 1993 when we were just wee ones. Then he died. Maybe I should stop thinking about meeting people, huh? Or at least writers. (What would we have gotten out of meeting Buk anyway?)

McFly, you should definitely take the time for Enormous Changes at the Last Minute.