Evening in Paradise: More Stories

Lucia Berlin. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-27948-6
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.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2018
Release date: 11/06/2018
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