Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: Stories

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: Stories



The Pequod Review:

Published in 1974, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute is Grace Paley's second short story collection. Her pieces are of widely varying quality, but the standouts are excellent — especially "Faith in a Tree" (set among new mothers in a neighborhood park) and  "Wants" (about a woman who runs into her ex-husband at the library). Paley creates an entirely unique tone with this second story — wry and witty, but yet gentle and perceptive: 

I saw my ex-husband in the street. I was sitting on the steps of the new library.

Hello, my life, I said. We had once been married for twenty-seven years, so I felt justified.

He said, What? What life? No life of mine.

I said O.K. I don't argue when there's real disagreement. I got up and went into the library to see how much I owed them.

The librarian said $32 even and you've owed it for eighteen years. I didn't deny anything. Because I don't understand how time passes. I have had those books. I have often thought of them. The library is only two blocks away.

My ex-husband followed me to the Books Returned desk. He interrupted the librarian, who had more to tell.