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One of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of 2015

"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

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.



About the Author

Lucia Berlin

Berlin was born Lucia Brown in Alaska in 1936. Her father was a mining engineer and her earliest years were spent in the mining camps and towns of Idaho, Kentucky, and Montana.

In 1941, Berlin's father went off to the war, and her mother moved Lucia and her younger sister to El Paso, where their grandfather was a prominent, but besotted, dentist.

Soon after the war, Berlin's father moved the family to Santiago, Chile, and she embarked on what would become 25 years' worth of a rather flamboyant existence. In Santiago, she attended cotillions and balls, had her first cigarette lit by Prince Ali Khan, finished school, and served as the default hostess for the father's society gatherings. Most evenings, her mother retired early with a bottle.

By the age of 10, Lucia had scoliosis, a painful spinal condition that became lifelong and often necessitated a steel brace.

In 1955 she enrolled at the University of New Mexico. By now fluent in Spanish, she studied with the novelist Ramon Sender. She soon married and had two sons. By the birth of the second, her sculptor husband was gone. Berlin completed her degree and, still in Albuquerque, met the poet Edward Dorn, a key figure in her life. She also met Dorn's teacher from Black Mountain College, the writer Robert Creeley, and two of his Harvard classmates, Race Newton and Buddy Berlin, both jazz musicians. And she began to write.

Newton, a pianist, married Berlin in 1958. (Her earliest stories appeared under the name Lucia Newton.) The next year, they and the children moved to a loft in New York. Race worked steadily and the couple became friends with their neighbors Denise Levertov and Mitchell Goodman, as well as other poets and artists including John Altoon, Diane diPrima, and Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi Jones) .

In 1961, Berlin and her sons left Newton and New York, and traveled with their friend Buddy Berlin to Mexico, where he became her third husband. Buddy was charismatic and affluent, but he also proved to be an addict. During the years 1962-65, two more sons were born.

By 1968, the Berlins were divorced and Lucia was working on a master's degree at the University of New Mexico. She was employed as a substitute teacher. She never remarried.

The years 1971-94 were spent in Berkeley and Oakland, California. Berlin worked as a high-school teacher, switchboard operator, hospital ward clerk, cleaning woman, and physician's assistant, while writing, raising her four sons, drinking, and finally, prevailing over her alcoholism. She spent much of 1991 and 1992 in Mexico City, where her sister was dying of cancer. Her mother had died in 1986, a probable suicide. In 1994, Edward Dorn brought Berlin to the University of Colorado, and she spent the next six years in Boulder as a visiting writer and, ultimately, associate professor. She became a remarkably popular and beloved teacher, and



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