I just found out about this: Grace Paley: Collected Shorts, a film by Lilly Rivlin.
Grace was not one of my teachers at Sarah Lawrence. But you could be Grace’s student without ever being in one of her classes. If you were in the writing program or involved in any of the protest movements at that time (early-mid 70’s), you got to know Grace. Tiny, willful, no-nonsense—and one of the great writers of our time.
She doesn’t need more tributes, certainly not from me. But the world needs more Grace. The website sells DVD’s. The trailer doesn’t look particularly wonderful. But I’m buying a copy and urge you to do the same.
One of the riveting things about Grace-in writing and planning protests-was her relentless focus on tangible detail. She blew through pretense and attitude as though it didn’t exist, wasn’t worth even noticing. I can’t say I learned to be a writer from Grace but I learned something about being a person, about being someone I could look in the mirror, just being around her. And if there’s a little of that in this film, that’s enough to recommend it highly.
And while you’re at it, go here or your local bookstore and buy at least one of Grace’s books. Neil Young always says he listens to the Basement Tapes before recording an album, to remind himself how to keep it real. Grace might be the written equivalent of that and that’s pretty high praise, even coming from an idiot like me.