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Web of Connected Short Stories Sparkles with Wit
on April 11, 2017
I don't much like short stories. I like to get tightly wound into the lives of the characters, and live with them for awhile. Short stories are like eavesdropping, snatching vignettes of occurrences without really becoming part of the lives being exposed.
In recent years, short story collections like "Olive Kitteridge" have tried to bridge the gap between short story collections and novels by providing a series of linked short stories. These are tales that could stand by themselves, but in which characters recur, are seen from different perspectives, take a leading role here, then recede into the background there.
This collection of stories by Grace Paley's is somewhat in the "Olive Kitteredge" vein - several stories involve a community of aging Jewish neighbors on the border of the Bronx. Other stories are not connected, but are witty riffs on social mores including feminism, political correctness. I was impatient with the first few stories, was amused by the riffs, and ended up working my way through the book despite my reservations.
So what can I say? This collection of stories is very witty and vividly written. If you like this kind of book, you will like this book.