October 1, 2012

the world's always amazed
at how much cash you made
but not at how you made it
it's just strange




Emma Gluckman, red phone, 2010

* From a Paris Review interview of Grace Paley:

INTERVIEWER

People have described your writing as wise.

PALEY

That’s because I’m old. When people get old they seem wise, but it’s only because they’ve got a little more experience, that’s all. I’m not so wise. Two things happen when you get older. You have more experience, so you either seem wiser, or you get totally foolish. There are only those two options. You choose one, probably the wrong one.

INTERVIEWER

In your choice of subject matter, you and Tillie Olsen have opened the door for a lot of writers.

PALEY

I hope so. Of course that’s not up to me or Tillie to say, Yes, there was the door and we opened it—we can’t say that. It’s not nice. I will say I knew I wanted to write about women and children, but I put it off for a couple of years because I thought, People will think this is trivial, nothing. Then I thought, It’s what I have to write. It’s what I want to read. And I don’t see it out there.

Meanwhile, the women’s movement had begun to gather force. It needed to become the second wave. It turned out that we were some of the drops in the wave. Tillie was more like a cupful.

INTERVIEWER

Was there anyone on that wave before you, who enabled you to write like you did?

PALEY

Well, I didn’t know I was on any wave. I knew what I was writing, but I didn’t think then that I was part of any movement. I didn’t even think I was a feminist! If you had asked me if I was a feminist when I began writing The Little Disturbances of Man, I would have said I’m a socialist—or something like that. But by the end of the book I had taught myself a lot and I knew more or less who I was. I opened the door to myself.

INTERVIEWER

Do you still feel supported by the women’s movement?

PALEY

I do feel very supported. There’s hardly a woman writer who doesn’t receive some kind of support from the women’s movement. We’re very lucky to be living and writing now. I feel supported by lots of men too, but I feel very specifically the attention of women, even in opposition. And they’re the ones I get arguments from; they’re the ones who say, Why don’t you write about this kind of life, or that kind of life? We like the children but why are they all boys? But on the other hand, I was at a conference in California last week, where a young woman kept saying she didn’t want to be a woman writer because it trivialized her. The point is that the outside world will trivialize you for almost anything if it wants to. You may as well be who you are.

INTERVIEWER

Why do you suppose she said that?

PALEY

I think she said it because she feels it’s true. And there is truth to it. A lot of European women feel it very strongly. They are afraid of being anything but totally universal. But we used to have a saying, “I take it from whence it comes,” which is a Bronx version of sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. So you take it from whence it comes, that is, if a certain society decides to trivialize you, it will marginalize you.

* End of The Century, the story of The Ramones.

* "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - Pablo Picasso

1 Comments:

Anonymous John Smith said...

I LOVE the fair! It is so fun having numerous totally different games. The imaginary creature with the piffle is thus funny! Cannot anticipate the Allhallows Eve Party too!

5:10 AM  

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