Welcome Home ... reveal[s] how powerfully Berlin’s literary imagination was shaped by the twin beliefs...that stories can keep you company—keep you sane—during periods of deep loneliness, and that stories improve when they’re fractured and opened up for intervention ... Her stories contain the observations and concerns of impermissible experience: what heroin dealers looked and spoke like in Juárez in the ’60s; how a woman of that era might change husbands as nimbly as changing cabs; what the cleaning lady thinks about as she gets blood off a bedroom wall after a murder ... These are dangerous subjects for women, even now. It’s no accident that many critics looking for Berlin’s peers compare her primarily to male authors (Hemingway, Raymond Carver), though the comparisons rarely do justice to her humor or her quirky, lavish prose style. Welcome Home also gives a sense of the joyousness of her personality, which is as urgently expressed in all her writing as loneliness and desperation are. Her writing loves the world, lingers over details of touch and smell ... precision is characteristic of Berlin, whose descriptions are usually both peculiar and funny.
Berlin (1936-2004) was a writer of tender, chaotic and careworn short stories ... she’s a writer you want in your back pocket ... This memoir, which lacks the richness of Berlin’s fiction, had been left uncompleted ... it’s a stand-in until the inevitable biography of Berlin is written.
Unfortunately, however, the memoir lacks crucial background information that would have made it a standalone work. Further editorial context or annotation would have certainly helped, particularly for first-time Berlin readers ... Never the less, as a supplemental reference, Welcome Home is a fun and sometimes bombastic introduction to Berlin’s roller-coaster life ... For anyone who has already read Manual or Evening in Paradise, Berlin’s brief memoir may at times feel redundant ... Fortunately, the second half of Welcome Home is far stronger than the first — so raw and electric, so alive with Berlin’s need to connect with other souls.