Angel’s Laundromat – Lucia Berlin
From the short story collection: A Manual For Cleaning Women
“Loss and longing are at the heart of this short tale from Lucia Berlin whose career is having a long over-due re-assessment.
We don’t know our storyteller’s name but very quickly we are by her side, aware that there is deep loneliness and a yearning need compelling her to keep re-visiting the downbeat Laundromat on the opposite side of town to where she lives. A disparate cast of characters pass through the shop and it appears that she is looking for some kind of connection to them.
Of note are the elderly Mrs. Armitage, who despite hardly knowing the narrator, hands her a key to her flat for fear she should die and not be found, and the old Apache Indian, Tony. A beautiful relationship grows between our teller and Tony, and despite them both coming from very different worlds they are drawn together by a shared loss: He is yearning for the past of his lost tribe, the narrator loss closer to home, hints of which show themselves bit by bit.
Lucia Berlin is a master of knowing what to leave out, as much as of what to put in and this story is full of wonderful little detail: “…connected yellow plastic chairs, like at airports. They skidded in the ripped linoleum and the sound hurt your teeth.” And beautifully realised sensitivity: “I could see children and men and gardens in my hands.” Simple and powerful.”
The SHORT TALE Review 2016