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The Story Is the Thing: On Lucia Berlin. Berlin, seen here in 1. One of her sons said, after her death, .
There on the flyleaf of the beautiful . We never did meet face to face. Berlin, who was born in 1.
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- Lydia Davis on the perfectly formulated short stories and novels of Lucia Berlin.
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Juneau, Alaska, and died in 2. One of her sons said, after her death, . Of course, for the sake of balance, or color, she changed whatever she had to in shaping her stories. One of her sons said, .
The places she and her family lived in her childhood and youth were determined by her father. Thus, she was born in Alaska and grew up first in mining camps in the west of the U. S.; then lived with her mother.
As an adult she continued to lead a restless life, geographically, living in Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, New York City; one of her sons remembers moving about every nine months as a child. Later in her life she taught in Boulder, Colorado, and at the very end of it she moved closer to her sons, to Los Angeles. She writes about her sons. Or, we should say, she writes about a woman with four sons, jobs like her jobs.
We have, most of us, known at least some part of what she went through: children in trouble, or early molestation, or a rapturous love affair, struggles with addiction, a difficult illness or disability, an unexpected bond with a sibling, or a tedious job, difficult fellow workers, a demanding boss, or a deceitful friend, not to speak of awe in the presence of the natural world. Because we have known some part of it, or something like it, we are right there with her as she takes us through it. Things actually happen in the stories. Three words to my father. She was fired sometime that weekend and we never saw her again.? Is it because things keep happening?
Is it also the narrating voice, so engaging, so companionable? Along with the economy, the pacing, the imagery, the clarity? These stories make you forget what you were doing, where you are, even who you are. Her wit and her irony flow through the stories and overflow in her letters, too: ! What did people do before Prozac? Beat up horses I guess.
Where did that come from? The past was maybe as alive in her mind as were other cultures, other languages, politics, human foibles; the range of her reference so rich and even exotic that switchboard operators lean into their boards like milkmaids leaning into their cows; or a friend comes to the door, . The shutters banged in the wind, shutters as old as Herman Melville. It was Sunday so there were no cars. Below in the streets the sailmaker passed, in a horse- drawn cart. Sleet hissed cold against the windows and Max called.
I woke up the boys and we left. They were living in lower Manhattan, at a time when the heat would be turned off at the end of the working day if you lived in a loft. Maybe the shutters really were as old as Herman Melville, since in some parts of Manhattan buildings did date from the 1. Though it could be that she is exaggerating again. Even more than Williams, Berlin also saw Chekhov (another doctor) as a model and teacher.
In fact, she says in a letter to Stephen Emerson that what gives life to their work is their physician. She goes on to mention their use of specific detail and their economy. But there is always a little more to say. How does she do it? Adobe Indesign Cc Serial Number Free Download there. Nothing is predictable.
And yet everything is also natural, true to life, true to our expectations of psychology and emotion. At the end of . But then the daughter asks, . Yes I do.’ “Berlin is unflinching, pulls no punches, and yet the brutality of life is always tempered by her compassion for human frailty, the wit and intelligence of that narrating voice, and her gentle humor. In a story called . You could die from D.
T. s just trying to find the Jim Beam aisle. Death has become so immediate? Or was she always attracted to storytellers, did she seek them out, learn from them? She had a natural feel for the form, the structure of a story. What I mean is that a story of hers has a balanced, solid structure and yet moves with such an illusion of naturalness from one subject to another, or, in some stories, from present into past. The pulleys and riggings of the mine at night, after the first snow. As Gloria Frym said in the American Book Review, she would .
In so many stories, Wham! Johnston has a possible answer: . I think it meant not contrived, not incidental or gratuitous: it had to be deeply felt, emotionally important. She told a student of hers that the story he had written was too clever.