A Pair of Paleys

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

A quirky odyssey, and memories of a father, in two stories by the late, great, Grace Paley. 

Grace Paley can be said to have been the Founding Mother of SELECTED SHORTS, allowing her work to be featured in our earliest programs, hosting short story evenings at Symphony Space, and introducing us to new and still unsung writers.   Paley influenced a generation of young writers in New York and at the Provincetown Fine Arts Workshop, and her many literary honors, in a writing career spanning more than half a century, included the Rea Award for the Short Story. 

In a number of her works, which include the collections Little Disturbances of Man, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute and Collected Stories (a Pulitzer Prize nominee), Paley writes in the voice of a fictional alter ego, Faith.  Both stories on this program—which is our hail and farewell to our old friend and colleague—are Faith stories.    First Laura Esterman reads “The Long Distance Runner,” a fantastical account of Faith’s encounter with the people who now live in her old apartment.

Another recurring theme of Paley’s fiction was her loving but challenging relationship with her émigré father, and our second work, “A Conversation with My Father,” has Faith’s feisty parent scolding the author for her non-traditional narrative style.   The actress who starred in the Broadway drama “Night Mother,” Anne Pitoniak, treats us to Paley’s attempts to “just tell a simple story.”


“The Long-Distance Runner,” by Grace Paley read by Laura Esterman

“A Conversation with My Father,” by Grace Paley read by Anne Pitoniak

The musical interlude is “Paper Planes” from the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire, performed by M.I.A.  The SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit

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Laura Esterman and Anne Pitoniak
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Comments [2]

Andy Cohen from New York

Wonderful story; HORRID reading. Ms. Esterman's voice for the Black characters in the Paley piece is beyond irritating and quite insulting. Has she ever spoken to an atual Black person? I'm sure Grace Paley would roll and roil in her grave if she heard the manner in which this reading was so sabotaged by Laura Esterman's small-mindedness.
What a disappointment.

Nov. 07 2010 02:10 AM
browno from Vermont

Wonderful! thanks. Changed our evening.

Jul. 11 2010 08:59 PM

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