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Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: Stories (1974)

by Grace Paley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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640930,825 (3.77)39
In this collection of short stories, originally published in 1974, Grace Paley "makes the novel as a form seem virtually redundant" (Angela Carter, "London Review of Books"). Her stories here capture "the itch of the city, love between parents and children" and "the cutting edge of combat" (Lis Harris, "The New York Times Book Review"). In this collection of seventeen stories, she creates a "solid and vital fictional world, cross-referenced and dense with life" (Walter Clemons, "Newsweek").… (more)
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» See also 39 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I liked Grace Paley a great deal years ago; I still do, but now--being an old broad myself--find elisions in these stories. ( )
  AnnKlefstad | Feb 4, 2022 |
I was just going to give this four stars to balance my GR quota but whatever. At least half of these are in the ten most affecting stories I've ever read. ( )
  brendanowicz | May 9, 2021 |
Well, I was surprised by this one. I love short stories. Somewhere, somehow I heard about Grace Paley. That she was a special teller of short stories. I obtained a copy of this collection with great expectations. The GR rating of 4 added to those expectations. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as expected. Yes, Grace Paley is a unique teller of short stories. Some of her stories are so short that they are over before you have gotten to know a character or what the story might be about. I simply couldn’t find much to enjoy. The one aspect of her stories I did like was the repeat appearance of the character Faith across multiple stories. Unfortunately, except for Faith, I didn't feel like I got to know anyone. When the writer is also an artist, the art can accentuate the story. But sometimes there is just the art, and it has nothing to do with the story. That is Grace Paley for me, at least in this collection. I can recognize the art for what it is. I can even appreciate the art to some degree. The art, however, did not help the stories. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
The only reason I didn’t give up on this collection halfway through the first tale is because I had to do a joint presentation on the author as part of my MA degree.

Checking other reviews, I see I’m of a minority who can’t stand these type of stories. I did expect to like this collection more than the author’s first book of shorts – which I wasn’t impressed by – but turned out that this one was even less appealing.

Here and there my interest was caught, hence my rating it two stars instead of one, but on the whole I was either bored, irritated, or both. I especially hate how, in about half the tales, there’re no quotation marks for dialogue.

Plots are virtually non-existent. Each story more or less revolves around people chatting about political matters, which is of no interest to me whatsoever. If it’s not political, it’s just commonplace gossip. In short, it comes across as the author’s way of expressing her opinions through lacklustre characters.

Speaking of characters, there are too many per story for it to be possible to feel any sympathy for any of them, never mind getting to know them. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Feb 27, 2017 |
Couldn't finish it. One of the most boring books I've ever tried to read... ( )
  CathCD | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grace Paleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Byatt, A.S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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In this collection of short stories, originally published in 1974, Grace Paley "makes the novel as a form seem virtually redundant" (Angela Carter, "London Review of Books"). Her stories here capture "the itch of the city, love between parents and children" and "the cutting edge of combat" (Lis Harris, "The New York Times Book Review"). In this collection of seventeen stories, she creates a "solid and vital fictional world, cross-referenced and dense with life" (Walter Clemons, "Newsweek").

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Book description
This is the unmistakable voice of Grace Paley. In these superb stories, wry, sardonic, often brutally funny, she speaks with disconcerting honesty about people in and out of love, husbands and wives, parents and children, passing strangers. New York is the setting, but like Chekhov's Russia, it's a place we all know. Her characters inhabit a world of too little money, too many kids, of husbands gone off somewhere, probably for good. Survivors all, illusions gone, they face the vicissitudes of life with a mixture of cheerful optimism and rueful acceptance.

These unforgettable tragi-comedies have echoes of Dorothy Parker, but the style, wit and imaginative daring of vision are Grace Paley's own.

Contents: Wants -- Debts -- Distance -- Faith in the afternoon -- Gloomy tune -- Living -- Come on, ye sons of art -- Faith in a tree -- Samuel -- The burdened man -- Enormous changes at the last minute -- Politics -- Northeast playground -- The little girl -- A conversation with my father -- The immigrant story -- The long-distance runner
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