Cover image for Evening in paradise : more stories / Lucia Berlin.
Title:
Evening in paradise : more stories / Lucia Berlin.
ISBN:
9780374279486
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
©2018

New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.
Physical Description:
ix, 244 pages : illustration ; 22 cm
Contents:
Foreword: the story is the thing / The musical vanity boxes -- Sometimes in summer -- Andado : a Gothic romance -- Dust to dust -- Itinerary -- Lead Street, Albuquerque -- Noël. Texas. 1956 -- The adobe house with a tin roof -- A foggy day -- Cherry blossom time -- Evening in paradise -- La barca de la ilusión -- My life is an open book -- The wives -- Noël, 1974 -- The Pony Bar, Oakland -- Daughters -- Rainy day -- Our brother's keeper -- Lost in the Louvre -- Sombra -- Luna nueva.
Abstract:
In this collection of short stories, Berlin showcased the gritty glamour that made readers fall in love with her. She finds beauty in the darkest places ... and darkness in the seemingly pristine. -- adapted from jacket.

"In 2015, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published A Manual for Cleaning Women, a posthumous story collection by a relatively unknown writer, to wild, widespread acclaim. It was a New York Times bestseller; the paper's Book Review named it one of the Ten Best Books of 2015; and NPR, Time, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and other outlets gave the book rave reviews. The book's author, Lucia Berlin, earned comparisons to Raymond Carver, Grace Paley, Alice Munro, and Anton Chekhov. Evening in Paradise is a careful selection from Berlin's remaining stories--twenty-two gems that showcase the gritty glamour that made readers fall in love with her. From Texas to Chile, Mexico to New York City, Berlin finds beauty in the darkest places and darkness in the seemingly pristine. Evening in Paradise is an essential piece of Berlin's oeuvre, a jewel-box follow-up for new and old fans." -- Publisher's website
Added Title:
Musical vanity boxes.

Sometimes in summer.
Holds:
Copies:

Available:*

Copy
Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
1
Searching...
BER Book Adult General Collection
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

"Berlin probably deserved a Pulitzer Prize." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times

NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE . Named one of the Best Books of 2018 by The Boston Globe , Kirkus , and Lit Hub . Named a Fall Read by Buzzfeed, ELLE, TIME, Nylon, The Boston Globe, Vulture, Newsday, HuffPost, Bustle, The A.V. Club, The Millions, BUST, Reinfery29, Fast Company and MyDomaine.

A collection of previously uncompiled stories from the short-story master and literary sensation Lucia Berlin

In 2015, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published A Manual for Cleaning Women , a posthumous story collection by a relatively unknown writer, to wild, widespread acclaim. It was a New York Times bestseller; the paper's Book Review named it one of the Ten Best Books of 2015; and NPR, Time , Entertainment Weekly , The Guardian , The Washington Post , the Chicago Tribune , and other outlets gave the book rave reviews.

The book's author, Lucia Berlin, earned comparisons to Raymond Carver, Grace Paley, Alice Munro, and Anton Chekhov. Evening in Paradise is a careful selection from Berlin's remaining stories--twenty-two gems that showcase the gritty glamour that made readers fall in love with her. From Texas to Chile, Mexico to New York City, Berlin finds beauty in the darkest places and darkness in the seemingly pristine. Evening in Paradise is an essential piece of Berlin's oeuvre, a jewel-box follow-up for new and old fans.


Author Notes

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.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

This wonderful posthumous collection from Berlin (A Manual for Cleaning Women) ranges from short, one-page stories about the poor and working class to longer romantic tales about the disaffected daughters of aristocrats in South America. The collection is significant partly because it reveals the centrality of homesickness and geography to Berlin's work. The elegant title story is set in a hotel in Mexico where the cast and crew of The Night of the Iguana are staying. The American movie stars living in "paradise" at the resort are worn out and distracted compared to the vibrant Mexicans who run the hotel. "Lead Street, Albuquerque" follows two young couples whose lives are interrupted when a friend moves into their building and marries a 17-year-old girl. The friend, who becomes a wildly successful artist, leaves his young wife in the care of the other women, who help her care for her baby. One of the longest stories in the collection is "Andado: A Gothic Romance," which follows Laura, a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Chile, as she visits the estate of wealthy widower Don Andres. The sexual tension between the older man and the younger girl escalates and eventually confuses the girl's innocent notions of romance. Berlin's writing achieves a dreamy, delightful effect as it provides a look back through time. This collection should further bolster Berlin's reputation as one of the strongest short story writers of the 20th century. (Nov.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

THE DAY LUCIA BERLIN was born, in Juneau, Alaska, in 1936, an avalanche wiped out a third of the town, or so she later wrote. Mythic stories gravitated to her, and in death she acquired one more: that of a writer who died too young and went unrecognized in her lifetime. In truth, when she died, at 68 in 2004, she had published 76 stories and six collections, for which she received several prizes. And yet, just as in her writing, the myth is truer than the truth. She should have written more. She should have been more celebrated. In 2015 Farrar, Straus & Giroux published "A Manual for Cleaning Women," a 400-page volume of her re-collected tales. It was rapturously received: Here was a writer's writer who, at the same time, had tremendous popular appeal. The book made the New York Times best-seller list. She was canonized alongside Richard Yates and Raymond Carver, and her own heroes, William Carlos Williams and Chekhov. And yet, Berlin is not only a soulful chronicler of the lost corners of America, whose semi-autobiographical stories brim with red caliche clay, arroyos, drainage ditches and smelter towns. She is not only a writer of vivid bursts of language: "Pete scowled; dominoes clicked. The daiquiris were strong. Cold, cold, delicious!" She is also a distinctly female voice, a raspy Marlene Dietrich. She was a beautiful woman who dared to know it, who could feel a bullet zing against the car and say, "'Hot damn!' . . . An adventure," and also write, with urgent honesty, of motherhood and love. In death, she became the patron saint of every coastal cool girl, every exhausted mother, every daydreamer of plane tickets, every chaser of her next broken heart. The simultaneous publication of a new volume of old stories, "Evening in Paradise," and an unfinished memoir (along with photographs and letters), "Welcome Home," is an event sure to be greeted with elation. Some lives seem predestined to be shaped into stories, and Berlin's contained infinite chapters. She spent her childhood in small mining towns across the Northwest, where her father worked as an engineer. Then, while he served in World War II, she and her mother went down to Texas. When she was 13, her father moved the family to Santiago, Chile. She attended the University of New Mexico, then zigzagged from New York to California, through alcoholism and detox centers, through odd jobs (substitute teacher, hospital ward clerk, phone operator, cleaning woman), through three husbands and four sons and many other men, for whom she had a weakness nearly as great as that for drinking. Though her first collection didn't appear until she was 45, she began to write in earnest in her early 20s. Homesick for Chile, she wrote to remember, until each flower appeared in front of her. Toward the end of her life, as a writing instructor in Colorado, she was interviewed by two students for a school assignment. They asked her if she wrote for joy. She told them, "I just wrote to - to go home." The vast majority of Berlin's stories include a description of a house, as rich and textured as if it were a character. It's no surprise, then, that when she sat down to write her memoir, she organized her material by place (and no surprise, either, that she omitted the less sensual truth of dates and years). The memoir ends midsentence, unfinished at the time of her death. The rest of the book consists of letters, most to her friend and mentor the Black Mountain poet Ed Dorn, and a list titled "The Trouble With All the Houses I've Lived In." Written in the late 1980s, in terse staccato prose, that list is the skeleton key to the rest of her work. It begins: "Juneau, Alaska - Avalanche the day I was born, wiped out a third of town. / Deerlodge, Montana - No heat, just the oven. Earthquake." The list picks up speed and pathos as it goes on: "Paper-thin walls. Mama crying crying"; "Dust storms. Old man died in the apple orchard"; "Pump broke, well went dry, wiring blew, chickens died, rabbits died, termites, goat broke leg. Shot her"; "I burned it down"; "Eight people, two bedrooms. Toilet overflowed. Sewer line broke. Evicted"; "Police. Fire next door. Evicted"; It ends in Oakland, with these words: "No catastrophe. So far." The list of houses is the bare-knuckled spine holding together a body of work in which each story shows you a single detail, in high definition. In Berlin's stories, her alter ego changes names - Maya, Laura, Maggie - but the scattershot particulars of her life hold constant. In "La Barca de la Ilusión," Maya attempts to keep Buzz (an analogue for Buddy Berlin, her third husband and great love) away from the vicious heroin dealers who trail him through Mexico. When one shows up in their secluded paradise, Maya "didn't speak or think. She stabbed him in the stomach with the paring knife. Blood gushed down his white sharkskin pants. He laughed at her, grabbed a rag." The image slips a knife into the reader: Maya's determination and helplessness laid bare. As the two men shoot up by the fire, Maya watches from the bed. The dealer pitches forward into the flames, overdosed, dead. Buzz dozes. Maya hauls the corpse into a canoe and pushes it out into the bay. In "The Wives," the character Laura says, in passing: "I once stabbed a connection, in Yelapa. I didn't even hurt him, really. But I felt the blade go in, saw him bleed." The woman she is speaking to puts on a Charlie Parker record and changes the subject. In her memoir, the section on Yelapa ends: "All young, handsome exbeach boys, smart and mean. Whispers in our garden, laughter in the dark by the datura tree." In the list of houses, Yelapa becomes simply: "Sharks, scorpions, coconut grove - THUD THUD - three kids. Hurricane." The knife, the inevitable tragedy of addiction, the dealer's corpse: THUD THUD. In the list of houses, one sees just how forcefully she can compress. But the magic of Berlin's stories is in their luxurious expansion, in the unexpected places she chooses to begin and end. It's no surprise that she was a beloved teacher - her stories teach. They sprawl, they play the trick of showing their seams. It seems a strange irony that Berlin died on Nov. 12, the same day she was born; she would never have wanted an ending so neat. In "Noel: 1974," two fellow teachers drop by Maggie's house and find it filled with lostboy friends of her sons, all smoking dope. "How can you have such a loose lifestyle and be so rigid a teacher?" they ask her. Maggie never answers the question, but a few lines later, another character interrupts by passing them a tray of suggestively named candy: "Have some divinity." "I write to fix a reality," Berlin told the students who interviewed her. I don't think she meant "fix" as in "amend," but "fix" as in "affix," to keep in place. There are lines of unforgettable lucidity that carry over near verbatim from the memoir to the stories. "I held the hot part of the cup and gave him the handle" becomes "She did things like hold the hot part of the cup when she passed him coffee, offering him the handle." For a raconteur like Berlin, it seems likely that the stories influenced the memoir as much as the reverse. "One day in class, I read a passage where one of Cervantes's characters, in an insane asylum, says that he could make it rain whenever he felt like it," Berlin writes in her memoir. "I understood in that moment that writers could do anything they wanted to do." The classroom scene appears in "Andado: A Gothic Romance," one of the strongest stories in "Evening in Paradise." Fourteen-year-old Laura is studying "Don Quixote," and her teacher, believing she hasn't read the book, quizzes her on the passage: "Laura smiled. She had just seen it. I'll rain whenever I feel like it." The scene ends here; the main event of the story is a weekend trip Laura takes to the vacation home of one of her father's business contacts. On the train ride there, the man slips his arm around Laura to steady her. "This would never happen to her again. When she grew older she would always be in control, even when being submissive. This would be the first and last time anyone took over herself," Berlin writes. It rains virtually the entire weekend. After their horse-drawn carriage slips offa bridge into an icy river, the man tells Laura to strip offher clothes and, in his words, ruins her. Is the story Berlin's way of reasserting control over events of her own life? Did it rain the night she was "ruined"? It doesn't matter. As Berlin wrote in a letter to Dorn, "It's raining here now, drizzling and downpouring - not today but in general." It rained in general. It rained whenever she felt like it. 0 NADJA SPIEGELMAN is the author of the memoir "I'm Supposed to Protect You From All This" and three comics for children, including "Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure." She is the online editor at The Paris Review.


Library Journal Review

Following the posthumous collection A Manual for Cleaning Women, which received major attention, here is a selection of Berlin's remaining stories proving that she should have been better known. Opening in the Southwest and Latin America, then spreading throughout the country, these works capture human relationships and interactions with care and grace, making the ordinary extraordinary and the extraordinary achingly familiar. Two young girls, one of Syrian descent, get into trouble selling chances on a Musical Vanity Box (sneaking into Juarez didn't help); in Chile, 14-year-old American Laura visits an estate and has a sexually charged encounter with an older man that she doesn't fully understand. In New York, a wife constantly corrected by her husband for saying postman rather than mailman sweetly announces, "on the way home I murdered the postman"-and gets corrected again. Her response-"David. Please talk to me"-says everything about the marriage. In a story about Aunt Zelda's inconvenient Christmas visit, a teenager admonished for his drinking shoots back, "I'm old for my age. Thirty-five is young to be a burnout." VERDICT Beautifully realized stories with good, old-fashioned virtues. [See Prepub Alert, 5/14/18.] © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.