Evening in Paradise: More Stories by Lucia Berlin [in Booklist]
In 2015, A Manual for Cleaning Women collected 43 stories Lucia Berlin left before her 2004 death, making her an overnight – albeit posthumous – literary sensation. Here are 22 more, presented in some semblance of chronological order, mirroring Berlin’s own peripatetic exploits (Texas, New Mexico, New York provide backdrops) that included three husbands (a sculptor, a pianist, and a charismatic drug addict all make appearances here) and four sons (Jeff Berlin gets editing credit, Mark Berlin provides – also posthumously, he died in 2005 – the collection’s introduction, regretfully not included in the audiobook).
Kyla Garcia, part of the six-reader cast for Manual, returns solo, her voice sounding 7, 17, or like someone’s grandfather; adapting Spanish, Syrian, or New York accents; channeling new mothers or weary middle-aged men. Garcia takes on the classic Hollywood cast of Night of the Iguana in the title story, women seeking pregnancy to keep their husbands from war, drug dealers in fatal encounters, wives comically reminiscing about their shared ex-husband, a daughter meeting her father’s mistress, and a professor whose town seems disappointed when her young son is not lost. Unconventional and unforgettable, Berlin’s storytelling prowess lives on.
Review: modified from “Media,” Booklist, April 15, 2019