Grace Paley   The Collected Stories.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 386 pages, $27.50

reviewed by Brooke Allen

For someone who has produced so small an oeuvre—three slim books of short stories, now collected in one volume—Grace Paley has garnered extraordinary accolades. The critical response has been almost entirely positive, and for over thirty years she has had a devoted if rather limited following. Why all the raves over a writer who, while she certainly has her strong points, is undeniably a specialized taste? Are all the critics who praise her work as enthusiastic in private?

Perhaps the fact is that over the years Paley has become something of a sacred cow. It is universally acknowledged that she is a writer of quality and principles. One feels discourteous in admitting to reservations about her work; she is so obviously on the side of Right and Good. The fact is...

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