Unearthed Genius Of Lucia Berlin

Unearthed Genius Of Lucia Berlin


Having burned many bridges in my hometown, I had a lot of time to waste over winter break. I desperately needed something to fill my days and, realizing that recommending books to friends and relatives would be but another way to assert my superiority, I decided to read anything I could get my stubby little hands on.

I've always loved reading, but I deplore pretension, which makes tackling the classics a challenge. You can just tell that these books feel superior. Somewhere, right now, Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde are cackling in Hell over their shared eminence, their unrivaled importance in literary circles.

Which is why I've always tended to stick to books like:

Kate Hepburn may have been able to act circles around everyone in Hollywood, but a writer she ain't. I have never felt threatened by books like these. They're entertaining, they're (very) mildly educational, and they have pictures -- the trifecta of lethargy.

But after glancing over my bookshelf and realizing that I had read about the life of nearly every Academy Award winner from 1935 to 1970, I decided to face my fears and give literature a try. I walked into Barnes & Noble, looked over their bestsellers, and picked one based on its cover.

Always judge books by their covers, kids.

I was floored. I poured over this collection of autobiographical short stories, reading and rereading each one, desperate to relish Lucia Berlin's voice, to extract every nuanced meaning from every masterfully constructed line. Berlin's stories span her various careers; switchboard operator, Spanish teacher, nurse. The peripheral characters flit in and out of their respective stories with a realistic grace. Her writing is brutal in not only its stark portrayal of a class of people not typically displayed on bestseller lists, but its beauty because of these much-maligned, rarely-discussed subjects. It's an atypical elegance you won't find within the pages of the classics, but one that radiates with a subdued (tarnished?) dignity off of her description of impoverished suburbs and trailer parks, schoolyard delinquents and dysfunctional families, nuns and alcoholics. The stories take place from the American southwest to South America, but in spite of location, the writing dazzles with its unparalleled, gritty grace.

Berlin's stories are accessible, not because of this realism, but because Berlin doesn't lord her obvious talent over the reader. Her writing is amicable, conversational, a 2 a.m. conversation in a working class bar put to paper. She eschews formality in favor of a style that is both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. The humor is dark and the characters are the kind that you would encounter in any dimly-lit bar across Texas, with the unspecified yearning of the author revealing itself with each page. Don't let the breezy informality fool you, either. Lucia Berlin is a writer whose every line will require, and demand, all of your attention. Her subtly in meaning is offset by her frankness in delivery in a style that feels more like stories your favorite grandparent might let slip after one too many Miller Lites than the merited work of a talented author.

Berlin passed away in 2004, another example of a tragically talented artist shunned by the public during her lifetime and praised only upon her death, yet this collection, thankfully, presents the genius of this Dorothy-Parker-by-way-of-Albuquerque to a willing and receptive world, affording her the widespread acclaim she earned decades ago.

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.

Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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13 Taylor Swift Lyrics About Love

“We could get married. Have 10 kids and teach em how to dream."


Taylor Swift is the only reason I've gotten through every love, and every break-up. Here's a list of 13 lyrics/quotes about love from Taylor Swift's albums.

“Losing him was blue like I’ve never known. Missing him was dark grey all alone. Forgetting him was like trying to know somebody you never met. Loving him was red.”

"Red" from the album "Red." This song perfectly describes every feeling that radiates through your entire being when you love and then lose someone.

“I wish we could go back, and remember what we were fighting for. I wish you knew that, I miss you too much to be mad anymore. I wish you were right here, right now, it’s all good. I wish you would.”

"I Wish You Would" from 1989. Sometimes I wish it was acceptable to just blast Taylor Swift during an argument because I totally would.

“You learn my secrets and you figure out why I’m guarded. You say we’ll never make my parents mistake.”

"Mine" from Speak Now. Let's surpass everyone's expectations.

“My baby’s fly like a jet stream, high above the whole scene, loves me like I’m brand new.” 

"Call It What You Want To" from the Reputation album. Once in a lifetime, there's someone who looks at your scars and calls you strong and brave, instead of damaged.

“My mother accused me of losing my mind, but I swore I was fine.” 

"Dear John" from Speak now. Love makes you do crazy things.

“One night he wakes, strange look on his face. Pauses then says ‘you’re my best friend’. And you knew what it was. He is in love.” 

"You Are In Love" from the 1989 album. Swift gives me chills with this song. Every time you think you're in love, you realize that the last time wasn't even close. True love, happens once or twice, and not for everyone.

“You pull my chair out, and help me in. And you don’t know how nice that is, but I do. And you throw your head back laughing like a little kid. I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny cause, he never did. I’ve been spending the last eight months, thinking all love ever does is break, and burn, and end. But on a Wednesday, in a cafe, I watched it begin again.”

"Begin Again" from the Red album. One of my top five favorite songs. Real love shows you how you should've been treated all along.

“Why would you wanna make the very first scar? Why would you wanna break a perfectly good heart?”

"A Perfectly Good Heart" from the first Taylor Swift album. Some people are only here to take. Never to give or share.

“The rain came pouring down, when I was drowning that’s when I cold finally breathe. And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean.”

'Clean' from 1989. It can take years, even lifetimes, to finally feel free from love.

“There I was again tonight, forcing laughter, faking smiles, same old tired lonely place. Walls of insincerity, shifting eyes and vacancy, vanished when I saw your face. All I can say is it was, enchanting to meet you.”

'Enchanted' from Speak Now album. Love at first sight?

“Romeo take me somewhere we can be alone, I’ll be waiting all that’s left to do is run. You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess, it’s a love story, baby just say yes.”

'Love Story' from Fearless album. This song makes me want to take a chance and escape with a stranger.

“I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy.”

"Don't Blame Me" from Reputation. I'm only better when I'm with you.

“We could get married. Have 10 kids and teach em how to dream.”

"Starlight" from the Red album. Only certain people are worth growing with.

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