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AManual for Cleaning Women

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This selection of 43 stories . . . should by all rights see her as lauded as Jean Rhys or Raymond... Read More

Product Description

This selection of 43 stories . . . should by all rights see her as lauded as Jean Rhys or Raymond Carver.In A Manual for Cleaning Women we witness the emergence of an important American writer, one who was mostly overlooked in her time. She is the real deal.Lucia Berlin's collection of short stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women, deserves all of the posthumous praise its author has received . . . Her work is being compå?ared to Raymond Carver, for her similar oblique, colloquial style; her mordant humour; the recurrence of alcoholics; and her interest in the lives of working-class or marginalised people. But only Carver's very final stories share Berlin's eye for the sudå?den exaltation in ordinary lives, or her ability to shift the tone of an entire story with an unexpected sentå?ence.Some short story writers - Chekhov, Alice Munro, William Trevor - sidle up and tap you gently on the shoulder: Come, they murmur, sit down, listen to what I have to say. Lucia Berlin spins you around, knocks you down and grinds your face into the dirt. You will listen to me if I have to force you, her stories growl. But why would you make me do that, darlin'? . . . Berlin's stories are full of second chances. Now readers have another chance to confront them: bits of life, chewed up and spat out like a wad of tobacco, bitter and rich.[Berlin's] stories are peopled with sharp, unpredictable, vital characters (often drunk!). They hit you with a force the moment you happen upon them.Raw and funny and breathtakingly great.Berlin's stories . . . alternate between light and dark so seamlessly and suddenly that a certain emotion barely fades before you feel something abruptly different . . . The result is a fictional world of wide-ranging impact, a powerful chiaroscuro that manages to encompass the full spectrum of human experience . . . [Berlin] deserves to be ranked alongside Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, and Anton Chekhov. She excels at pacing, structure, dialogue, characterization, description, and every other aspect of the form.[Berlin's] writing really soars.There is a seemingly effortless style to these beautifully observant tales of detoxing, lapsing and old affections.This career-spanning volume should reward readers who return to it for months, years, even decades . . . Berlin's stories offer few answers, and no easy routes to redemption, but empathy pulses.Berlin writes about extremities of shame, humiliation and degradation with a ferocious elegance that allows neither bleakness not sentimentality . . . The editorial arrangement by Berlin's friend Stephen Emerson is particularly sensitive to the jazzy musicality of the stories . . . These perfectly poised cadences are the work of a writer who knew exactly how good she was.Full of humor and tenderness and emphatic grace . . . Those not lucky enough to have yet encountered the writing of Lucia Berlin are in for some high-grade pleasure when they make first contact.A Manual for Cleaning Women is a miracle of storytelling.Here's prose to fall hard for, from the first beautifully candid paragraph to the last. As Berlin's characters confide in the reader and in each other, somehow, through the "ifs" and "buts," laundry and flower clocks, grace and catastrophe, a mesh is woven that captures life itself. I'm bowled over by her.What a thrilling, welcome discovery this collection is. These are stories to beguile, fascinate and surprise. You are never sure what will happen next. As soon as I'd finished this book, I had to turn back to the beginning and start again.Berlin's writing is characterised by an enormous appetite for life, for humour and for love . . . This almost chatty style is undercut by brutal one-liners and swift reversals that, along with skilful narrative shaping, remind you that these are painstakingly crafted stories.Berlin's literary model is Chekhov, but there are extra-literary models too, including the extended jazz solo, with its surges, convolutions, and asides. This is writing of a very high order.[The stories] are set in the places Berlin knows best: Chile, Mexico, the Southwest and California, and they have the casual, straightforward, immediately intimate style that distinguishes her work . . . [They] are told in an easy conversational voice and they go from start to finish with a swift and often lyrical economy . . . Berlin's stories capture and communicate these moments of grace and cast a lovely, lazy light that lasts. She is one of our finest writers.Lucia Berlin might be the most interesting person you've never met . . . Every detox ward, dingy Laundromat, and sunbaked Mexican palapa spills across the page in sentences so bright and fierce and full of wild color that you'll want to turn each one over just to see how she does it. And then go back and read them all again.[Lucia Berlin] may just be the best writer you've never heard of . . . Imagine a less urban Grace Paley, with a similar talent for turning the net of resentments and affections among family members into stories that carry more weight than their casual, conversational tone might initially suggest . . . Berlin's offbeat humor, get-on-with-it realism, and ability to layer details that echo across stories and decades give her book a tremendous staying power . . . [A Manual for Cleaning Women] goes a long way toward putting Berlin, who died in 2004, back in the public eye.Lucia Berlin has long been overlooked as one of America's best short story writers, and it only takes readers the first couple of pages to recognize that . . . Reminiscent of Raymond Carver with a dash of survivor's humor, which makes even the bleakest tales thoroughly enjoyable.A major talent . . . A testament to a writer whose explorations of society's rougher corners deserve wider attention.Berlin's posthumous, highly semiautobiographical collection will catapult her into a household name.How a writer with this much appeal slipped under the radar is unfathomable . . . Anyone who loves the stories of Grace Paley and Lorrie Moore will find another master of the form here . . . Just go get the book and start reading them for yourself.Berlin's ability to gaze into a person's soul is reflected in her writing it is incisive, and the boldness of the prose jumps off the page . . . Poignant, comic and beautifully observed.[The stories] reel you in with their warmth, humour and a cast of ordinary women leading very real, very messy lives.This was a brilliant woman. [Berlin's] work transcends funny and shows us the absurd. She doesn't let her characters hide behind artifice or sensationalism or substances, as much as they might like to. Reading these stories, you get the sense that this is what she wanted for herself: to let go of the bullshit. As a result, the transformation she provides is visceral and startling.Begin reading a Berlin short story and you know immediately that you are in the presence of a unique and searing literary force . . . This revelatory volume now brings her forward to stand beside her peers.This collection of raw and remarkable short fiction saw Lucia Berlin, little known in her lifetime, finally become lauded as an important figure in American letters

Celebrating Fifty Years of Picador Books

The world just goes along. Nothing much matters, you know? I mean really matters. but then sometimes, just for a second, you get this grace, this belief that it does matter, a whole lot.

With an introduction from Lydia Davis

Lucia Berlin‰۪s stories in A Manual for Cleaning Women make for one of the most remarkable unsung collections in twentieth-century American fiction.

With extraordinary honesty and magnetism, Lucia Berlin invites us into her rich, itinerant life: the drink and the mess and the pain and the beauty and the moments of surprise and of grace, with a voice is witty, anarchic, compassionate, and completely unique.

Part of the Picador Collection, a series showcasing the best of modern literature.

Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Her stories are culled from 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, including as a high-school teacher, a switchboard operator, a physician's assistant, and a cleaning woman. Two collections of her work were published posthumously: A Manual for Cleaning Women and Evening in Paradise.

Product Details

Title: AManual for Cleaning Women
Author: Lucia Berlin
SKU: BK0447142
EAN: 9781529077223
Binding: Paperback

About Author

Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Her stories are culled from 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, including as a high-school teacher, a switchboard operator, a physician's assistant, and a cleaning woman. She published several short story collections including Angels Laundromat and Homesick, and several of her previously published stories are collected together in New York Times Bestseller, A Manual For Cleaning Women.

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