"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.
Listeners will revel in this remarkable collection from a master of the form and wonder how they'd ever overlooked her in the first place.
©2015 Lucia Berlin (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Beautiful writing and fascinating heartfelt stories. I would have preferred a few seconds more between the stories instead of Audilble's unfortunate habit of running stories and chapters together. The readers were fabulous.
One of the narrators, whoever the woman is who reads "Grief" and others, has a voice not unlike a robot reading "talk to text." Her inflections are so alien and odd, I can barely stand to listen to her. If I speed it up to 1.25 it is slightly more bearable, but no less bizarre. The woman who reads "A manual for cleaning women" and others, does a rich, textured, feeling and gravelly performance. I find the disparity in these two voices jarring and ultimately I am just going to buy the book so that I can read it to myself. That being said, Berlin's writing is exquisite- she rights of harsh, beautiful, rough, dirty, gorgeous, sad, depressing, surreal situations and people- my heart feels like it is being torn open from beauty and grief listening to this work. I am so grateful that her work has come to me, and so sad I didn't find it sooner, that most of us didn't find it until after she was dead. Audible, seriously, consider re-recording this volume of stories, nixing the performances of the robot lady, who generally reads anything written in the third person.
These short vignettes of the daily routine, crises, and terrible dilemmas facing working women and their families are narrated beautifully. I listen exclusively to short stories an hour or so before bed, and this collection is my mainstay. I have never lived these lives, which are pulled mostly from the lower echelon of American society. I promise you will see our country differently through this author's skillful narrative and characters whom you feel you are living with in just the first few words.
I stopped listening after one last story about some poor dogs and a porcupine and then a sledgehammer. The very long and glowing forward also grew tiring. I don't like to write negative reviews, and tbh the narrators did a pretty good job mostly, but I guess I can only take so much life-story telling from this point of view. I see enough of society's underbelly where I work, I don't need it on my down time, too.
The writings clang together like pots you are putting away. You see scenes from a fascinating person's life. In time you begin to know her, her kids, her fun, her sorrows. It is a good read, and I usually don't like short stories because you leave the characters too quickly....not so with this writing. It is wonderful!
I stumble upon Lucia Berlin, not knowing her ties with Southwest and it has been a pleasure. She captured the joys and pathos of our region as only somebody who has felt it.
Read her work, you will find a calm resignation about what it is to live.
I would have enjoyed it more if the author stuck to one story line. The performance was well done for audio, but I enjoy relaxing and enjoying audible books...without the need to unravel and figure out where the story starts and ends.
I think this would have been much more enjoyable reading instead of listening. The stories jump around too much and it's hard to tell if some of the short stories are connected. I like the way it was written, but again it would have been much more suiting to read it through, because I believe it takes patience, undivided attention and dedication to enjoy it as an audio book. It's more of a heady book.
Something a little more spicy, lively and inspiring.
No, I found the main women a little monotonous. Her performance fell flat and didn't give good opportunity for funny or dramatic material.
Eh...not especially inspiring. Some really nice keepsake sayings and thoughts here and there, but not exceptionally provocative.
This was a detailed rendering of sanguine regret, beauty and pain. Sometimes.a little too real. Gives these women the respect of.honest consideration.
The stories are full of insight and passion. Berlin is a keen observer of life and it's many nuances.
Writers--and those who aspire to be writers--will find the collection especially enjoyable. Those who rigidly believe that all stories should have a certain structure or form will fight their way through because Berlin is a genius at understanding what really makes a story a story. She is not limited by structure. Instead, she allows her stories the form they must take to have the meaning she wished to express.
The stories are full of passion, but with not sentimentality. Life as she sees it is way to harsh for that. She is a realist.
I've already listened to several of the stories more than once. Now I'm going to start listening to the entire collection again. Bravo!
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