Cover image for Where I live now
Where I live now
Berlin, Lucia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Rosa, CA : Black Sparrow Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
240 pages ; 23 cm


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Homesick (1990) and So Long (1993), her immensely popular short story collections, established Lucia Berlin as the Sister of Mercy of contemporary fiction. In Where I Live Now, Berlin once again contemplates the human condition with a compassionate understanding. Berlin's vision is sometimes remorseful, sometimes resigned, always courageous and unmisgiving.

The elusive nature of happiness is a compelling theme here: the survivors in these stories -- many of them society's marginal or excluded people, fighting alcohol or drug addiction, bearing emotional scars -- recognize it all too well. They mourn the lost dreams of youth, the roads not taken. They suffer the damage life inflicts: the ache of loneliness, the pain of separation, the fear of death.

Author Notes

Lucia Berlin (1936-2004) worked brilliantly but sporadically throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Her stories are inspired by her early childhood in various Western mining towns; her glamorous teenage years in Santiago, Chile; three failed marriages; a lifelong problem with alcoholism; her years spent in Berkeley, New Mexico, and Mexico City; and the various jobs she later held to support her writing and her four sons. Sober and writing steadily by the 1990s, she took a visiting writer's post at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1994 and was soon promoted to associate professor. In 2001, in failing health, she moved to Southern California to be near her sons. She died in 2004 in Marina del Rey.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The 18 affecting stories in this compelling collection, Berlin's third in a decade (after Homesick and So Long), are set predominantly in the Southwest, and often feature hapless women addicted to alcohol or married to drug addicts. In "Mijito," 17-year-old pregnant Amelia Romero, homesick for Mexico and speaking no English, sees her no-good husband, Manolo, disappear behind prison bars moments after their marriage. In "Carmen," pregnant Mona is sent on an ill-fated drug run by her addicted husband. Carlotta Moran, the incorrigible heroine of "Let Me See You Smile," can't stay sober long enough to get her life in gear. Other stories feature children as victims: Lu, the older, less-loved sister of the linked stories "Mama," "Silence" and "Sometimes in Summer," dodges the lurid advances of a drunken grandfather and tries to protect her young sister, Sally, from his grasp. The theme of devoted siblings resurfaces as Do¤a Claudia cares tenderly for her dying sister in "Del Gozo Al Pozo." Happily, Berlin exhibits a flair for comedy, which surfaces in a few tales, lightening the mood. "Evening in Paradise" pits a harried hotel-keeper against hopped-up Hollywood celebrities and small-town hustlers as the imagined cast and crew of The Night of the Iguana shake up Puerto Vallarta, while in the caustically witty "The Wives," Laura and Decca hilariously dissect their mutual ex-husband. There are minor flawsÄBerlin's occasional use of two narrators tends to confuse, and some readers may be put off by her reluctance to translate SpanishÄbut for the most part, she is marvelously successful, placing her memorable characters in gripping situations, plumbing their messed-up lives for pathos and allowing us to see deeply into their souls. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved