The New York Times
Fidelityby Grace Paley
Just before her death in 2007 at the age of eighty-four, Grace Paley completed this wise and poignant book of poems. Full of memories of friends and family and incisive observations of life in both her beloved hometown, New York City, and rural Vermont, the poems are sober and playful, experimenting with form while remaining eminently readable. They explore the
Just before her death in 2007 at the age of eighty-four, Grace Paley completed this wise and poignant book of poems. Full of memories of friends and family and incisive observations of life in both her beloved hometown, New York City, and rural Vermont, the poems are sober and playful, experimenting with form while remaining eminently readable. They explore the beginnings and ends of relationships, the ties that bind siblings, the workings of dreams, the surreal strangeness of the aging body—all imbued with her unique perspective and voice. Mournful and nostalgic, but also ruefully funny and full of love, Fidelity is Grace Paley’s passionate and haunting elegy for the life she was leaving behind.
The New York Times
When she died this summer at age 84, Paley was widely and rightly remembered as a master of the American short story, an engagé raconteur who mixed earthly humor, Jewish-American heritage, outspoken feminism, antiwar activism and an understated postmodern self-awareness. Those facets did not all appear in Begin Again(2001), a collected poems praised more for honesty than craft; happily, Paley's many fans may find that her best poems were her last. The wry, friendly voices in this posthumous assemblage address her later years with equanimity and humor. As in her short stories, the apparent naïveté of tone plays off the earned wisdom the teller finally conveys. In "I Met a Woman on the Plane," Paley listens to a mother of five living children explain that she cannot stop grieving for her sixth, who died. Other poems praise the territories Paley has known, with wit and kindness: Manhattan and Brooklyn streets and the hills of Vermont. Finally, though, this wise and patient collection focuses on old age, presented with an appealing combination of impatience and fortitude: "Anyone who gets to be/ eighty years old says thank you/ to the One in charge," Paley says, "and then im-/ mediately begins to complain." (Mar.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
"Life is as risky/as it is branchy/treetop and twigtip/are only the beginning." Just before her death in 2007 at the age of 84, Paley compiled this smart, engaging collection. Rich with memories of family and friends, evocations of rural Vermont and her hometown of New York City, and assertions of clear-headed social convictions, these poems are sometimes melancholy, sometimes funny, and sometimes simply a pleasure. Finding herself at odds with aging-"I forget the names of my friends/and the names of the flowers in/my garden"-Paley shows us here she was nevertheless in continued and absolute control of her faculties. She was known as a none-too-shy advocate of peace and justice, especially in the everyday, and these poems are in keeping with her fine-tuned values: "Oh how hard the hard-hearted rich are/when they meet a working person in their places/of work a cab or restaurant kitchen." A fitting legacy for a wise and delightful writer; highly recommended for all collections.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.12(w) x 8.21(h) x 0.63(d)
Meet the Author
Born in the Bronx in 1922, Grace Paley was a renowned writer and activist. Her Collected Stories was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. She died in Vermont on August 22, 2007.
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