Despite being a lover of short fiction, before this collection, Lucia Berlin was unknown to me...a travesty. I could have been marveling at her writing for the last few decades, but like much of America, I only just discovered one of American short fiction's best-kept secrets. Berlin had one of those rare gifts that allowed her to write about the trivialities of everyday life and make it inescapably riveting. A Manual for Cleaning Women collects stories from throughout Berlin's career. Being a bona fide grammar junkie, I was transfixed by Berlin's deft use of punctuation. It may seem like a trivial aspect of a story, but her strategic use of it gives her writing a truly conversational tone allowing her stories to be simultaneously comforting and disturbing.— Scott
One of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of 2015
One of Jezebel's Favorite Books of 2016
"I have always had faith that the best writers will rise to the top, like cream, sooner or later, and will become exactly as well-known as they should be-their work talked about, quoted, taught, performed, filmed, set to music, anthologized. Perhaps, with the present collection, Lucia Berlin will begin to gain the attention she deserves." -Lydia Davis
A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With the grit of Raymond Carver, the humor of Grace Paley, and a blend of wit and melancholy all her own, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the Laundromats and halfway houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad Christians.
Readers will revel in this remarkable collection from a master of the form and wonder how they'd ever overlooked her in the first place.
About the Author
Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Her stories are inspired by her early childhood in various Western mining towns; her glamorous teenage years in Santiago, Chile; three failed marriages; a lifelong problem with alcoholism; her years spent in Berkeley, New Mexico, and Mexico City; and the various jobs she later held to support her writing and her four sons. Sober and writing steadily by the 1990s, she took a visiting writer's post at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1994 and was soon promoted to associate professor. In 2001, in failing health, she moved to Southern California to be near her sons. She died in 2004 in Marina del Rey.