“I would like you to write a simple story just once more,” says the father. “…Just recognizable people and then write down what happened to them next.”

The old man is eighty-six, bedridden – beseeching! – but the daughter of Grace Paley’s “A Conversation with My Father” cannot honor this last request, cannot plot an unswerving line or knot every narrative thread: Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.