"As the case with her fiction, Berlin's pieces here are as faceted as the brightest diamond." --Kristin Iversen, NYLON
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE. Named a Fall Read by Buzzfeed, Vulture, Newsday and HuffPost
A compilation of sketches, photographs, and letters, Welcome Home is an essential nonfiction companion to the stories by Lucia Berlin
Before Lucia Berlin died, she was working on a book of previously unpublished autobiographical sketches called Welcome Home. The work consisted of more than twenty chapters that started in 1936 in Alaska and ended (prematurely) in 1966 in southern Mexico. In our publication of Welcome Home, her son Jeff Berlin is filling in the gaps with photos and letters from her eventful, romantic, and tragic life.
From Alaska to Argentina, Kentucky to Mexico, New York City to Chile, Berlin’s world was wide. And the writing here is, as we’ve come to expect, dazzling. She describes the places she lived and the people she knew with all the style and wit and heart and humor that readers fell in love with in her stories. Combined with letters from and photos of friends and lovers, Welcome Home is an essential nonfiction companion to A Manual for Cleaning Women and Evening in Paradise.
The unique and captivating perspective prized by fans of Berlin (A Manual for Cleaning Women) is on haphazard but still-mesmerizing display in this nonfiction complement to her autobiographical short stories. Readers will recognize many real-life details mined for Berlin's fiction, here rendered in less finished form: the peripatetic childhood in mining towns; high-society high school days in Chile; her successive marriages to jazz musicians and friends Race and Buddy. The volume's first part consists of fragments from a memoir left unfinished at the time of her death in 2004, illustrated with numerous photographs. The second, stronger section presents select letters, many from her time living in New York City from 1959 1961. Although more editorial context would have been helpful, the (too few) missives will fascinate fans with what seems a peek at the unvarnished Berlin, whose self-reflective ("I am still not proud and I am not yet humble") and candid ("We are laughing now, in debt and broke and sickly") voice comes roaring through. For the uninitiated, starting with the concluding biographical sketch by Stephen Emerson would be a good entr e; even better would be to read Berlin's stories and then return to this work with new appreciation. , Correction: This review has been amended to clarify that Stephen Emerson did not edit the book.