"A Manual for Cleaning Women" catches you off guard
It catches you off guard, Lucia Berlin's writing. When you read lines like the one above, you feel that she's talking right to you from across the porch while her rocking chair creaks. But she isn't. She's not even the one speaking; her narrator is. And even though I knew I was reading fiction, I still couldn't help feeling as though I was reading small snapshots of Berlin's own life in A Manual for Cleaning Women.