A Manual for Cleaning Women (Berlin)

I’m glad Berlin has been (re)discovered, but I wonder about the decision to put quite so many stories in one collection. Why not just re-print the collections she published in her lifetime?

The stories are off-beat, honest, quirky. I most appreciated the ones where we see the same story from two points of view, not in any clever modernist way, but the story of the old couples watching the sisters on the beach and the story of those sisters – both in one story. A single story, however short, rarely contains just a single story.

Though I could have used a family tree, I also thought the collection picked up when it became apparent that so many of the stories were interconnected. The same characters at different ages, featuring here, having a bit part there. It was, at times, tempting to consider the stories Flannery O’Connor-esque, but I don’t think that does either writer justice.

Good stories. Honest. In interesting places with flawed and fantastic people. Real.

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