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Lucia Berlin: This desperate desire

2019-09-23T14:47:54.370Z

Two volumes of prose and letters show again why one must necessarily read the wonderful American author Lucia Berlin.



When the American writer Lucia Berlin was rediscovered about four years ago, we not only got her stories, but another story as well. Namely that of the beautiful writer with the tragic life, which was so tragic that Berlin, which had never been adequately discovered, was only rediscovered when Berlin was no longer aware of it, eleven years after she was 68 in 2004 died. And all of this was not only tragic for Berlin, but of course also and especially for her enthusiastic audience, who seemed to love Berlin in a similar intense way as Berlin looked to the world with love in her texts. Because maybe, so the audience idea, the writer would have published in many and not so unknown circumstances much more than just 76 stories, so maybe we could have gotten much more from these pointed, accurate, wise texts with the special staff (jockeys with broken bones, Grandfathers who can tear their teeth out), who meet at consistently interesting locations (detoxification clinics, launderettes) and is watched by such a warm and brutally tough narrator, whose life reminded very much of the very few that were then about Lucia Berlin knew.

Here is the hope that Berlin would have written more if it had not lived so precariously, just as understandable as it was paradoxical, because their living conditions were a central condition for the literature that emerged from it and for the Berlin today is so revered by the literary milieu, of course, because that environment often does not live very precariously (in the sense of being on the edge), but rather second-hand. However, the short version of the Berlin narrative goes like this: Ingenious, undiscovered writer, far too little written. PS: Interesting catastrophe life, led by a beautiful woman, who stands in an interesting relationship to her stories. Because Lucia Berlin was at times an alcoholic, single mother and worked as a nurse, teacher, cleaning lady, and she wrote, inter alia, about single mothers, alcoholics mothers who worked as nurses, teachers, cleaning ladies.

In Germany, a little more than 40 of those stories have been distributed in two volumes (What else have I missed and what will you do if you go, Ark), but now this year there are two new Berlin books in the Zurich campus. Publishing has been published (again excellently translated by Antje Rávik Strubel): first appeared Welcome Home (irritating, but worth reading) and then a few months later evening in paradise (same here). Welcome Home is a book edited by Lucia Berlin's son Jeff, the first part of which contains an unfinished arrangement of autofiction prose texts that Berlin wrote shortly before her death, ending in the middle of a sentence. The writer, who has moved 18 times in her life and who sought her home in writing, sketched in sketchy and often lyrical texts her life story based on the places she has lived in (Alaska, Idaho, New Mexico, New York. ..). The second part of the book contains letters written by Berlin from the years 1944-1965, which cover approximately the same period as the autofiktionale prose from the first part of the book ("Some of our favorite letters from the time, which includes Welcome Home , were attached here ", Jeff Berlin in the foreword.)

Now to the question, what is irritating about this book: It probably begins with the fact that it looks a bit random-fashionable and too thickly applied (huge Berlin picture on the cover, on it metallic shimmering letters), in much the same way It was designed by H & M home designers (metallic!), yes, you have the immediate feeling, you enter a Starbucks. And then you leaf through a bit and see quite soon the photo of a baby, next to it is: "Lucia, born on 12 November 1936". Whereupon, of course, one immediately asks, sorry, but since when are we actually hugging each other, then embarrassed, but stalking through the following photos: Lucia as a baby, Lucia with her babies, Lucia asleep, Lucia smiling beside her chilli peppers. The book is reminiscent of a kind of photo album, which of course also follows something for the prose contained therein, namely that they are read less as a literature than as memories - as the memories of this really talented woman who unfortunately did not come so much to write because she had to take care of her babies so much.

Source: zeit

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