Washington, D.C. (i.e. Healdsburg, California): Zephyrus Image, 1977. Side-stitched pamphlet, measuring 6.75 x 4.5 inches: (20). Brown paper wrappers printed in black, “National Endowment for the Domestic Arts” seal to front wrapper, text printed on beige paper, linocut illustrations. Inscribed by Lucia Berlin on title page. Housed in original pictorial mailing envelope printed in green. With: unbound proof sheet, measuring 6.75 x 9 inches, printed on both sides, containing two linocut illustrations.
Inscribed first edition of Lucia Berlin’s first publication, the twenty-page chapbook “A Manual for Cleaning Ladies.” Later retitled “Maggie May,” the story follows a Bay Area house cleaner through her daily routine, the precisely observed details of each job gradually revealing her crushing grief: “When I smile, my hand goes involuntarily to my mouth. I collect sleeping pills, but you know I won’t do it.” Berlin has inscribed this copy: “Thank you for reading me – love, Lucia.” The accompanying proof sheet represents pages 7-8 and 13-14 of the completed chapbook, and features two of the four linocut illustrations produced by Michael Myers, including the full-page image of the narrator standing on a stove “to clean an exploded Coca-Cola off the ceiling.” In her lifetime, Lucia Berlin found a passionate following among fellow writers, winning the American Book Award in 1991, but her spare, bleakly comic fiction would not reach a wider readership until 2015, when a posthumous collection of her short stories became a surprise bestseller for Farrar, Straus and Giroux. A remarkable survival, in fine condition, inscribed by Berlin.