Pic shows Grace Paley in her home in Thetford, Vt., April 9, 2003.
Ms. Paley’s output was modest, just 45 stories in three volumes: “The Little Disturbances of Man” (Doubleday, 1959); “Enormous Changes at the Last Minute” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1974); and “Later the Same Day” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985). But she attracted a devoted following and was widely praised by critics for her pitch-perfect dialogue, which managed to be surgically spare and unimaginably rich at the same time.
Her “Collected Stories,” published by Farrar, Straus in 1994, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. From 1986 to 1988, Ms. Paley was New York’s first official state author.
Ms. Paley was among the earliest American writers to explore the lives of women — mostly Jewish, mostly New Yorkers — in all their dailyness. She focused especially on single mothers, whose days were an exquisite mix of sexual yearning and pulverizing fatigue. In a sense, her work was about what happened to the women that Roth and Bellow and Malamud’s men had loved and left behind.