Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Angela Carter and Grace Paley Buy or Pass?

"The Company of Wolves" by Angela Carter (1979, 6 pages)
"My Father Addresses Me on the Facts of Old Age" by Grace Paley (2002, 4 pages)

Angela Carter and Grace Paley
A Test Drive 

Yesterday I was looking in the best book store in Manila to buy collections of short stories, Power Books in Trinoma Mall, to see what they had in stock.   I noticed they had
editions of the  short stories of two writers I have seen mentioned a lot in the book blog world but have never read, Angela Carter and Grace Paley.   I had checked before and there is no Kindle edition of their collections.   I decided I would see if I could read one of their stories online before deciding if I will buy the collections or not. I was happy to find a story by both writers. 

"Children do not stay young long in this savage country".

"The Company of Wolves" by Angela Carter (1940 to 1992-UK) for sure pushed me into the buyer category.  It is kind of a very dark fairy tale about a  sinister world.  It is a very occult story no doubt with all sorts of references to English tradition that go over my head.   There are witches, people turned into wolves, evil children and a real sense of the terror of the night.   The story is just so marvelously written I have no ability to retell the plot without trivializing it so I will not try.  I am really looking forward to rereading The Collected Short Stories of Angela Carter in 2013.   

"My father had decided to teach me how to grow old"

"My Father Addresses Me on the Facts of Old Age" by Grace Paley (1922 to 2007-USA)  Paley wrote only short stories, unlike Angela Carter who also wrote novels.  Successful short story writers often feel a pressure to write novels but Paley resisted this.    This story, originally published in The New Yorker, is told in the first person and is about a grown woman whose father has decided he wants to council her about how to deal with old age.  The story alternates between the advise he gives her and her reaction to it.   Her mother, the man's wife of decades has died and it was usually her who gave out the parental advice.   They are of Russian descent and of the  Jewish faith, just as Paley was. Her parents were Ukrainian emigrants and spoke Russian and Yiddish at home.  The father is very well read in the Russian classics.   He talks about which of the great Russian writers were probably anti-Semites.  He says in the times they lived most were.  He says Tolstoy was not, Gogol probably was and he did not think Gorky was.  This conversation was enough to push me to a buyer on Paley.  I will say I think her father was wrong about Gorky.   He talks about how his daughter is more in the American world than he is.  I hope to read The Collected Short Stories of Grace Paley in 2013.

You can read the Paley story in the free archives of The New Yorker 

"The Company of Wolves" can be read here.

I also found a 600 page edition of the complete short stories of Issac Singer at Power Books but that will have to wait!  I was also surprised to see they had an edition of the complete short stories of Zola Hurston which is also on my buy if it is still there next Christmas list!

Please share your experiences with Grace Paley and Angela Carter with us.

Mel u


Paul McVeigh said...

I'm a huge Angela Carter fan since I was a teenager. You have so much fanstastical pleasure ahead of you. Never heard of Grace - look forward to exploring. Did you get my email?

Unknown said...

Buy then both! :-)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful important writers! Read all of Grace Paley!