Review of Evening in Paradise: More Stories
Lucia Berlin, who died in 2004, was a short story writer of wry insight who fictionalised her own colourful life in her perceptive tales. But it wasn’t until a collection of her stories, A Manual For Cleaning Women, was published in 2015 and became a bestseller, that her work reached a wider readership. Now this new collection of previously uncompiled stories is published, bringing her unique storytelling to us all.
Born in Alaska in 1936, Lucia Berlin, nee Brown, moved around a lot as a child, as her father was a mining engineer. She lived in Idaho, Montana and El Paso in Texas, before moving to Santiago in Chile after the Second World War. There she often took the role of hostess for her father when he entertained at their house. In the 1950s, she returned to America to attend the University of New Mexico, where she met her first husband. She was married three times and had four sons, and lived in New York and Mexico, before divorcing her final husband, the jazz musician Buddy Berlin, in 1968. In the 1970s and 1980s she spent time working as a teacher, and at a series of menial jobs, in order to support her children, whilst battling and finally overcoming her alcoholism.
"these are stories which will take you out of your comfort zone"
Throughout her life, she wrote short stories, which drew heavily on the real events she experienced, and Evening In Paradise reflects this, taking us through the years in chronological order. From selling ‘chances’ as a child with her Syrian friend Hope in 1940s Arizona, to protecting her drug addicted husband from a dealer in a remote area of 1960s Mexico, to reconnecting with forgotten family at Christmas in the 1970s, these are stories which will take you out of your comfort zone. Although fiction, they each hold a kernel of truth, and are full of playful and witty observations of a life lived beyond the ordinary.
Written by Ruth, Marketing