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Topic for discussion: Week 1

The Grace Paley stories you read for the 9/6 lecture didn't have what we think of as a "plot." They're more like scenes. Most people think of the word "scene" as something related to a film, play, or TV show; it's usually a building block, part of a longer work which has a defined beginning, middle, and end to the story.

Did it bother you that nothing really "happens" in these stories? Did you find yourself asking for more information, like what happened before or after the piece, or did you think they worked pretty well as stand-alone stories? Does it change your concept of what elements are necessary in a work of fiction?

Would you read more of Grace Paley's work?


It didn't bother me that nothing 'happens' in Paley's stories. The essence of a short story is for the reader to not have all of the information, just a snapshot of the characters lives. I think she did a good job of incorporating all of the neccessary background info for the reader. I think many of the elements of fiction are present in her stories--there is a conflict and some sort of resolution.

I would read another story by Paley if I were to come across it in an anthology, but I would not seek one out.

I did not like the fact that there was not any action in the story. Without any action the story seemed to be very uninteresting and almost lacking in certain elements. While I was reading her stories, I was constantly waiting for some sort of plot to appear, but it never did.

I enjoyed Paley's stories or scenes. I think, like she had said in an interview, that plot is just simply time - another sort of time that organizes and stresses life. Her stories just are. They have life within themselves, they have a starting and a concluding thought. The points that Paley is writing about reaches her readers.
I believe that is does change my concepts of fiction. Always I had thought there had to be a timeline, this is outside the box. As Michael said above, I would not seek out Grace Paley's work on purpose, however if I did come across her work I would read it and most likely understand her writing styles.

It was interesting how Paley's stories had somewhat of an ordinary feel to them. I found the content of the stories themselves to be the most interesting. For example, the story "Northeast Playground", it seemed peculiar because she began with how she met "eleven unwed mothers on relief. Only four of them were whores...". Since her writing style is different than what I am accustomed to reading, it took some warming up to to get her rhythm. It didn't bother me that nothing really happened because that was her intent and she was successful. I would read more Grace Paley stories if it was an assignment, but otherwise I don't think I would really be jumping at the chance.

It didn't bother me that nothing really happens in her stories. I think her stories are well written to make her readers understand what is she trying to write. With her stories by not having a plot, it is still well understandable. The stories are fun to read and I don't think it would change my concept of the elements to the work of fiction. I would love to read more of Grace Paley's stories.

It didn't bother me much that there wasn't much of a plot, but I can't say I enjoyed the stories for their ordinary feel or "scene like" qualities. I would have much rather had more details, especially with the characters, who seemed very vague to me. I would definitely give more Grace Paley stories a chance because I think she sets up stories really well, they just need more information.

After reading her stories it didn’t both me that nothing really “happen?. I felt like Grace Paley herself was retelling me the story from memory. If more information were to be added to the piece, I believe it would have ruined her attempt to make the stories more mysteries. I think the stories themselves worked pretty well as stand-alone stories because they have the same impact on reader as in a regular book. After reading her stories my concept of what elements are necessary in a work fiction changed because her way of writing was on another level.

What I liked best about the Grace Paley stories was that they were seemed real and honest. She doesn't sugar-coat anything; she tells it like it is. However, I also had a problem with the lack of detail. I would have liked to know more about the characters, and I guess that was my biggest problem with the stories not having a plot. I wanted to know the histories of the characters, whereas she only provided a brief glance at their lives. I also don't think I would go looking for a Grace Paley story to read, but if I came across one I would probably read it.

I liked and enjoyed reading Grace Paley's work, and think that her stories worked just fine as "stand-alone" stories. I like how she tries to pull you in and make it seem like you're there. Her way of writing seemed really unique to me, because I had never seen someone not use quotation marks. I really enjoyed the fact that "nothing happens" because its just a quick story that you could tell to anyone (if you wanted to). The thing about her not using much detail, doesn't really bother me because it lets you keep your mind wide open and imagine things as you wish (so you can kind of make things up in your head).

Grace Paley's stories are good, and I would definitely read another one, only if someone gave it to me.

I don't feel as if "nothing happens" in her stories. She has a message and portrays that message through her characters and actions taken between them. I found "Wants" rather interesting. Even though she just walked in and out of the library, so much moved the story by her feelings and her interactions with her ex-husband. Her life as a whole changed just standing outside the library, rather than her physically moving. I feel that it does change the way I view what certain elements make up a work of fiction.

Initially, I was left feeling that the stories had no depth. They did not resemble the usual novels and sotries lines that I am so accustomed to. But, when I stepped back, I realized that maybe that was Grace Paley's objective. If she strips away all the dynamic charaters and plot build up, it's simply just the message she wants to convey. I think her short stories make you dig in order to analysis and understand the intentions of the story.