Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Short Story Wednesday: "A Conversation with My Father" Grace Paley


In this story, a daughter is visiting her 86-year old father on his deathbed. He asks for a story but is dissatisfied with the one she gives him, a one with many possible outcomes. He asks for one like Chekhov or another Russian writer would write. He wants the details that make the story come alive for him. She is unwilling to propel her character into an old-fashioned type plot. She wants her character to be free. 

Her story is about a woman whose son has become a drug-addict and how she takes up drugs to share his experience. As the daughter provides more and more of the details that her father craves, we see her unwillingness to tell the whole story is related to her father's dying and his willingness to hear it all signals his acceptance of what's ahead. A very post-modern story but lots to think about.


Jerry House 

Kevin Tipple

George Kelley  

Todd Mason

Casual Debris


Todd Mason said...

That certainly sounds like an almost archetypal Paley story! Shall check that link...

Mine is up and in your queue (I've yet to find an easy way to convert my current outdated queue into one of those, but clearly I'm being bleary-eyed, though little works as it should on Blogspot), or visible here:

Thanks for the listings!

Todd Mason said...

Ha! You beat me to it. Thanks again.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I love Grace Paley, have read all her collections.

Not much time to read lately. I am reading Lawrence G> Blochman's second collection about Dr. Daniel Webster Coffee, a pathologist-detective, CLUES FOR DOCTOR COFFEE (originally 1964) and a collection of pulpish noir stories by Cleve F. Adams, PUNK & Other Stories, a collection of four novelettes originally published between 1937-1941. Both were cheap Kindle copies.

I did just download Yiyun Li's WEDNESDAY's CHILD from the library this morning. "A new collection - about loss, alienation, aging, and the strangeness of contemporary life" - sounds light, right?

Casual Debris said...

Just remembered it's Wednesday! I have one up today:

I remember this one, but the details are fuzzy. I believe it was assigned in one of my undergraduate courses. It left an impression on the class, but I need to re-visit.

Margot Kinberg said...

It does sound like there's a lot to unpack here, Patti. It's not easy to build a lot into a short story, but it sounds as though it works here.

TracyK said...

In December, I purchased DARK TALES by Shirley Jackson. This week I read two stories from the book, "The Honeymoon of Mrs. Smith" and "The Story We Used to Tell." I hope to read more before the next SSW.

The story by Grace Paley sounds very good.