Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Michael Parker's Journal blog pointed the way to the writer Grace Paley and when I read an interview with her in Salon Magazine by A.M. Homes I was struck by a few parts that address a topic that keeps coming up - why do we write, to what purpose?

"Grace Paley is the sagacious elf of American letters; her spirit, both in person and in her work, is a magically contagious amalgam of compassion and incredible honesty." There's that word again - honesty - our job is to shine a light with "truth." Maybe. But what is truth?

Here are three questions and answers from the interview to think about:

"What do you think a writer's job is?

I don't think every writer has the same job. It depends where you are in history. If you're Charles Dickens, your job is to really tell people, give 'em the news about parts of their society that they don't know about or see. In general, I think -- it's what a writer does naturally -- you write.

Do writers have a moral obligation?

Oh, I think all human beings do. So if all human beings have it, then writers have some, too. I mean, why should they get off the hook? Whatever your calling is, whether it's as a plumber or an artist, you have to make sure there's a little more justice in the world when you leave it than when you found it. Most writers do that naturally, see that more lives are illuminated, try to understand what is not understood and see what hasn't been seen.

Do women write different kinds of stories than men?

There's a lot more domestic conversation, if you want to call it that -- or personal. Women are -- most women are easier about being personal with one another than most men. They tell each other more, and they have a lot of common problems. One of the things is -- I've never really said this -- but one of the things that has interested me is that women have bought books by men since forever, and they began to realize that it was not about them, right? But they continue, with great interest, because it's like reading about another country. Now, men have never returned the courtesy."

To read poems by Grace Paley, visit Michael's blog (see LINKS) . . .


Blogger Michael Parker said...

THis is a great post!

11:01 AM, December 08, 2005  

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