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Evening in Paradise


"Berlin's new book is a marvel, filled with deeply touching stories about lives ...
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Discuss Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin:
Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

Created: 11/04/19

Replies: 13

Posted Nov. 04, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2245

Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. For example, in "La Barca del la Ilusion" the heroine is named Maya while in "The Wives" her name is Laura, although it seems the same woman is featured in both; and the children in both "My Life is an Open Book" and "Noel, 1974" are named Keith, Ben, Nathan and Joel, yet their mother is Claire in the former story and Maggie in the latter. Why do you think the author used this technique?


Posted Nov. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lesleyf

Join Date: 05/14/11

Posts: 89

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

I am not sure. Was she trying to give more friends a chance to "be in" her book? Was she trying to make the stories less autobiographical? Just in general I found it confusing. Similar to when an actor plays several
parts in a play but doesn't change hats and scarves so you can keep the characters separated from the actor as well as each other.


Posted Nov. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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patriciag

Join Date: 07/11/14

Posts: 32

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

I found this hard to follow especially when trying to find connections between stories. I'm wondering if these stories were pieced together later, and maybe she never fully intended them to be a "collection."


Posted Nov. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 255

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

I do not know why she did this but this is one reason I thought the stories were odd and it was confusing. I kept thinking perhaps I was not concentrating enough on my reading, letting my mind drift!


Posted Nov. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lole

Join Date: 11/30/19

Posts: 25

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

I usually read short stories as "stand alones" where they don't necessarily bear relationships with each other, having no story arc as you would find in a novel. I think using different names for the same person may not be a technique so much as an oversight. This collection, like A Manual for Cleaning Women, did not benefit from her presence in selecting and ordering the stories with an editor; nor perhaps even editing her own work to have consistency in names used.


Posted Dec. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianeh

Join Date: 08/01/16

Posts: 70

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

I had a difficult time with the stories and, as others have said, was often confused. Possibly the use of different names was to highlight the fact that each was a brand new story with (usually) different characters.


Posted Dec. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggyt

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 143

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

Maybe it really means nothing. Lucia is Maria is Maya is Lisa. It didn’t really bother me.


Posted Dec. 02, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 118

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

I was also confused by using different names for the possibly being the same character in a different story. Was I supposed to make a connection between the 2 stories or accept it as 2 different characters unrelated? I also wonder if the person putting the book together did this intentionally? When I found my self wondering if the characters were the same or different it interrupted the flow of the story.


Posted Dec. 02, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 423

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

When I was reading the stories I was confused and frustrated by the change in names. Someone here in this thread, though, responded that the author wasn't around to curate the collection herself, and I think that made the technique more understandable. As the author penned these, I doubt she intended them to be connected, and so just chose a name for her characters.


Posted Dec. 03, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

Posts: 244

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

Berlin captures the essence of human emotions in her characters; experiences and emotions are the important aspects--names are inconsequential.


Posted Dec. 03, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KelHydra

Join Date: 08/05/19

Posts: 17

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

At first I was trying to "read into" her use of names, but then I decided to just read the stories. I didn't mind her re-using names at all. I really like MarieA's thoughts - Berlin was focusing on emotions and experiences, the names don't matter as much.


Posted Dec. 03, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 136

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

I kept trying to reconcile that they stories really weren't connected but they were. It was clear that even though different names were used, essentially the people were the same. If the stories were published separately in magazines, for example, this would not have been too much of an issue. With a collection of short stories in one volume, it was a little distracting and confusing.


Posted Dec. 03, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 235

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

I agree with most of the other readers--the use of different names was confusing and distracting.


Posted Dec. 03, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
josephinej

Join Date: 05/11/15

Posts: 72

RE: Berlin reuses some names across stories, while other stories use different names for the same woman. Why do you think she used this technique?

Many of these stories felt unfinished, or unedited. I thought maybe she just used the same names as place holders and was planning to go back and change them. It was confusing, though!


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