A Manual for Cleaning Women

A Manual for Cleaning Women

Selected Stories

Book - 2016
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"A Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With her trademark blend of humor and melancholy, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday uncovering moments of grace in the cafeterias and Laundromats of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Northern California upper classes, and from the perspective of a cleaning woman alone in a hotel dining room in Mexico City. The women of Berlin's stories are lost, but they are also strong, clever, and extraordinarily real. They are hitchhikers, hard workers, bad Christians. With the wit of Lorrie Moore and the grit of Raymond Carver, they navigate a world of jockeys, doctors, and switchboard operators. They laugh, they mourn, they drink. Berlin, a highly influential writer despite having published little in her lifetime, conjures these women from California, Mexico, and beyond. Lovers of the short story will not want to miss this remarkable collection from a master of the form" --
Publisher: New York : Picador, 2016
Edition: First Picador edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781250094735
Branch Call Number: BERLIN L
Characteristics: xxvi, 403 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Emerson, Stephen
Davis, Lydia 1947-


From the critics

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Oct 30, 2018

Fascinating and memorable fictional stories of people that are incredibly realistic. She writes briliantly.

Feb 03, 2018

Love these short stories. Begin on pg 69.

Jan 20, 2018

I had been slightly familiar with Lucia Berlin, thanks to Alastair Johnston of Poltroon Press, who published her short story, "Legacy," back in 1983. This story reappears as "Dr. H.A. Moynihan" in this collection.

Berlin's writing is captivating. Her descriptions of unglamorous day-to-day living is slightly askew. The short story "A Manual for Cleaning Women" somehow paralleled my life in Oakland during the 1960s, riding the same buses in Oakland and Berkeley, being around the same sorts of people when I was a teenager.

My favorite excerpt is from this story:
Ter refused to ride buses. The people depressed him, sitting there. He liked Greyhound stations though. We used to go to the ones in San Francisco and Oakland. Mostly Oakland, on San Pablo Avenue. Once he told me he loved me because I was like San Pablo Avenue.
He was like the Berkeley dump. I wish there was a bus to the dump."

There is plenty to behold in Berlin's stories, if only they get you to see things from a different perspective in beautifully-written prose.

Nov 12, 2017

This is amazing writing. Some like prose poems. The characters and settings stay with you for a long time. Going to buy the book

Jul 12, 2017

This is a collection of some of the stories Berlin wrote between 1977 and 1999 about the everyday life of working class people, some of whom are on the margins. Autobiographic. The stories have lots of surprises, unexpected twists and insights. I really enjoyed the book.

ArapahoePamelaH Jan 20, 2017

Lucia Berlin had many jobs including teaching creative writing at the University of Colorado, Boulder, before her death in 2004. Her stories are short, gritty, melancholy, witty... revealing snippets of grace in the mundane details of everyday life. Pretty wonderful!

ArapahoeAnnaL Nov 16, 2016

Beautifully crafted stories of people on the margins, struggling in life.

Dobrila_T Sep 06, 2016

Lucia Berlin is amazingly accomplished short story writer.

Sep 05, 2016

An excellent collection of biographical short stories. Tender, honest, sad, rough without being crude, funny, satirical. Short but detailed descriptions, the images appear in front of you.

Jan 13, 2016

Lucia Berlin was a hard drinking, multi-married, ex deb, whose travels and family led her everywhere from Alaska to Texas to Chile and California, and she put it all into these gritty, brutal, heartbreaking short stories/essays. Manual is as smart, nervy and unforgettable as the woman who wrote them.

These stories left a lasting impression. Makes my life look dreamy in comparison.

Highly recommended.*

*Content: Fbombs, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse


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