Book Review: Welcome Home by Lucia Berlin

First Published in December 2018

Genre: Non Fiction

Pages: 153

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Pan Macmillian Australia:

Evocative . . . poignant . . . acute and funny’ Observer

‘The Revival of the Great Lucia Berlin Continues Apace’ New York Times

Best known for her short fiction, it was upon publication of A Manual for Cleaning Women in 2015 that Lucia Berlin’s status as a great American writer was widely celebrated. To populate her stories – the places, relationships, the sentiments – Berlin often drew on her own rich, itinerant life.

Before Berlin died, she was working on a book of previously unpublished autobiographical sketches called Welcome Home. The work consisted of more than twenty chapters that started in 1936 in Alaska and ended (prematurely) in 1966 in southern Mexico. In our publication of Welcome Home, her son Jeff Berlin is filling in the gaps with photos and letters from her eventful, romantic, and tragic life.

From Alaska to Argentina, Kentucky to Mexico, New York City to Chile, Berlin’s world was wide. And the writing here is, as we’ve come to expect, dazzling. She describes the places she lived and the people she knew with all the style and wit and heart and humour that readers fell in love with in her stories.

My Review:

I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillian Australia in exchange for an honest review – all thoughts are my own.

I feel like if I had known about Lucia Berlin before reading this book that I would have maybe appreciated this more, I mean, when I started reading this, not really knowing anything about the author or her books, I didn’t know what to expect, and I personally found that I felt like I was reading not so much a memoir but a string of descriptions, young Lucia parting with her father and travelling around with her mother and her ‘not very interesting’ sister.

This is where I sort of struggled to maintain any personal connection with this autobiography, I feel like through those glances at young Lucia’s life and then reading those letters to her friends when she was far from home and struggling to find her feet as a writer, what stood out more was the descriptions! I feel like rather than describing everything she saw and what she and her young sons and husband were up to, it would’ve been more interesting to draw on those personal faces that she would have come across and what triggered her inspiration to write and why she wanted to write- but I felt like this book definitley got bogged down in being too descriptive and perhaps less personable.

Happy Reading,

Brooklyn.

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