Take ‘short’ break from your cleaning _lowres


“A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories” by Lucia Berlin, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 432 pages, $26, hardcover

I’ve only recently become a reader of short stories.

In our hectic lives, reading for pleasure sometimes only comes in short bursts of time, but I’ve discovered that a short story can be just as enjoyable as a novel. If you’ve never read short stories, this compilation of 43 tales, ranging from just a page in length to 22 pages, from the late Lucia Berlin, is a good place to start.

Many of the stories are told from a first-person narrative; some are semi-autobiographical. They mostly tell the mundane affairs of ordinary people — strangers briefly connected in a laundromat, a tile installer working in an elderly woman’s trailer, a nurse’s infatuation with her horse jockey patient, a cleaning woman’s thought on her various clients.

Though the stories are mostly uneventful, they are also intriguing and sublime, and I found myself sneaking in a story whenever I had just a bit of time.

— Laura Acosta, Baton Rouge