Friday, May 27, 2011

NOÖ Knows Stories #12: Mark Cugini on Grace Paley

I've been riding Grace's dick for a while now. Grace dick-riders give her props for an assload of different reasons—her feminist activism, her colloquial voice, her clever insight, etcetera—but what she's so brilliantly adept at, I think, is owning the shit out of her shit.

This probably sounds vague. Good. It's supposed to. What I'm essentially saying is that when I read a Grace story, I know immediately that it's a Grace story, and this is what implores me to refer to her by her forename and her forename only because I'm sure you know exactly who I'm talking about.

Take "Wants," for example, which was the first Grace story I ever read. "Wants" is chock-full of all the necessary requirements we so frequently want from our fiction: conflict, that conflict's progression, an enormous change at the last minute. The thing, though, is that none of these elements are existing on their own but instead are eloquently unified for the sake of survival. It's sort of like what Gary Lutz said about words that are destined to belong together: without all of Grace's eloquences working towards one poignant whole, there would be no ripple effect, no rocking of the boat, and no Grace dick-riders.

And this, I argue, is what all fiction (or short stories or poems or novels or bathtubs) should be striving towards: an immense sense of ownership over the craft, a unity so strong that every last syllable is riding the current of one subtle ebb tide, easily drifting towards its own narrative coast so its readers can find it buried in sand. I'm supposed to be this romantic when I'm talking about these things, you see. If not, our stories will be lost forever, drifting further and further along on the endless current of boring, predictable prose. — Mark Cugini, editor of Big Lucks

1 comment:

Richard said...

Thank G-d there are people out there writing true stories like Grace Paley's! Thanks for this, Mark.