A Manual for Cleaning Women

A Manual for Cleaning Women

Selected Stories

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Compiles [43 tales from] ... 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374202392
Characteristics: xxiv, 403 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Emerson, Stephen - Editor


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jun 22, 2019

Really enjoyed it, but I felt as though at some point the stories were all the same. Finished about 3/4 of it before deciding to return it and pick up something new.

May 31, 2019

Lucia Berlin is perhaps the most significant rediscovery of the past few years. She lived a fascinating, varied life and wrote a number of books, published by small presses, but was virtually unknown until FSG published this collection in 2015. Many of the characters are rootless, living in places like Mexico, Southern California, the American Southwest, and Montana. They drink (Berlin had a pretty serious drinking problem.), work in mines, fall apart, teach, and write letters. The dirty realism and blunt style recalls Carver, but Berlin has a voice all her own. Lydia Davis, a modern master of the shorty story, wrote the introduction. Also pick up the companion collection, "Evening in Paradise."

Dec 12, 2018

Gritty. Hard-working prose and equally hard-working life.

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.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at BDL

To Top