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
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, from the foreword
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.