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Fidelity: Poems Hardcover – March 18, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 83 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (March 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374299064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299064
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,439,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
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Review

“In this book, Grace Paley’s celebrated gifts as a story-teller have entered a lyric fire and emerged unscathed. These are wonderful, unswerving narratives of ordeal and grace. Here are poems about friendship, about ageing and the approach of death. And in every one of them, her familiar wit shines. These poems will travel far: they will be on nightstands, in backpacks, on email lists, in conversation and memory and soliloquy for a long time to come.” —Eavan Boland
 
“All over the world, in languages you never heard of, she is read as a master storyteller in the great tradition: People love life more because of her writing.” —Vivian Gornick

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Clifford Garstang on April 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would love this book even if the pages were blank if I thought that's what Grace Paley wanted us to contemplate. Even if there were no words I would still hear her voice, reading her stories and poems. But the pages aren't blank. They're filled with poetry that is definitely Paley's: spare, without punctuation, essential life with the fat boiled off. The poems are, in effect, Paley stories: about her family and friends, as if even the short fictions she once wrote had become too heavy.

There are some poems here I won't remember long, but there are others that are hard to forget. "Sisters" is one. "One Day" is another.

And there are others. The book has just been published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. This is from the FSG website:
"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."

For Paley fans, especially, but also for others interested in a look at life from Paley's unique perspective.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kramer on April 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This wonderful book of poems was published by Grace Paley's estate. She had things to share with us until the end. She wasn't done yet.

This book is small but oh so powerful and seems in keeping with the shrinking that happens with age, but the spirit stays strong. She faces aging, her illness, her approaching death and its effect on those who love her. She has the wisdom to rejoice that her children's children will help them through these hard times.

".....luckily their
children have imperiously
called offering their lives a
detour thank god they've all
gotten away"

Grace speaks of her sister, who had died two years ago, in several poems. She shares how she copes with her grief.

"I needed to talk to my sister
talk to her on the telephone I mean
just as I used to every morning
in the evening too whenever the
grandchildren said a sentence that
clasped both our hearts

I called her phone rang four times
you can imagine my breath stopped then
there was a terrible telephonic noise
a voice said this number is no
longer in use how wonderful I
thought I can
call again they have not yet assigned
her number to another person despite
two years of absence due to death
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda Witt on August 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most touching books of poetry I have ever read. Definitely a "must read" for those of us who are facing are own mortality and the loss of our loved ones...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Norma Manna Blum on June 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What better can be written? These are the words of Gracy Paley, after all, and every one of her words are precious.
These poems are continuations of her life-long themes.
And while she may have written better and wiser ones, perhaps, these certainly do serve to stand for her tenure in the world made so much more wonderful for her having been in it.
Read the poems with and for Grace.

Norma Manna Blum
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