A Manual for Cleaning Women Selected Stories

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2016-08-02
  • Publisher: Picador

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Supplemental Materials

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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.

Author Biography

Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Her stories are inspired by 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. Sober and writing steadily by the 1990s, she took a visiting writer's post at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1994 and was soon promoted to associate professor. In 2001, in failing health, she moved to Southern California to be near her sons. She died in 2004 in Marina del Rey. She is the author of the short story collection A Manual for Cleaning Women.

Table of Contents


Foreword: “The Story Is the Thing” by Lydia Davis vii
Introduction by Stephen Emerson xix

Angel’s Laundromat / 3
Dr. H. A. Moynihan / 9
Stars and Saints / 17
A Manual for Cleaning Women / 26
My Jockey / 39
El Tim / 41
Point of View / 51
Her First Detox / 56
Phantom Pain / 61
Tiger Bites / 69
Emergency Room Notebook, 1977 / 88
Temps Perdu / 98
Carpe Diem / 106
Toda Luna, Todo Año / 110
Good and Bad / 125
Melina / 137
Friends / 145
Unmanageable / 151
Electric Car, El Paso / 155
Sex Appeal / 159
Teenage Punk / 164
Step / 167
Strays / 170
Grief / 179
Bluebonnets / 194
La Vie en Rose / 203
Macadam / 210
Dear Conchi / 211
Fool to Cry / 221
Mourning / 236
Panteón de Dolores / 242
So Long / 252
A Love Affair / 261
Let Me See You Smile / 272
Mama / 303
Carmen / 310
Silence / 320
Mijito / 333
502 / 356
Here It Is Saturday / 363
B.F. and Me / 376
Wait a Minute / 380
Homing / 388
A Note on Lucia Berlin / 401

Acknowledgments / 405

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