One of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of 2015
One of Jezebel's Favorite Books of 2016
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.
"Perhaps, with the present collection, Lucia Berlin will begin to gain the attention she deserves." -Lydia Davis
Berlin, who may just be the best writer you've never heard of, has a gift for creating stories out of anything, often from events as apparently mundane as a trip to the laundromat. 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. Many of the strongest stories here are autobiographical, featuring Berlin's stand-in (sometimes called Lucille, sometimes Carlotta) and her sons, husbands and lovers; a range of jobs, mostly pink collar, but occasionally, as in the title story, blue; a complicated backstory across two continents; and a problem with booze. 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. The collection could be tighter (there are over 40 stories, some only minor) and could give readers a better sense of how they're sequenced, but this collection goes a long way toward putting Berlin, who died in 2004, back in the public eye.
Must read, Lucia Berlin is “ The Best writer you have never hear of’ . Ny Times top 10 reads of 2015. a true hidden treasure