The Love We Don’t Know | by Vivian Gornick | The New York Review of Books

A master of the short story that is all voice, Grace Paley was famous for having come down against the fiction of plot and character development because, as she once said, “Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.” In Paley’s stories the narrating voice—urban, ethnic, rooted in lived experience—is most often speaking directly to the consequences of that open destiny, which, once pursued, never fails to take its toll. In one story the narrator runs into her ex-husband whom she cheerfully addresses as “Hello, my life,” but then has an exchange with him that reminds her that “he had had a habit throughout the twenty-seven years of making a narrow remark which, like a plumber’s snake, could work its way through the ear down the throat, halfway to my heart. He would then disappear, leaving me choking with equipment.”

The voice that speaks those sentences becomes the story being told.
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