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.
... a little uncut ruby of a memoir ...The lack of variety is puzzling (why not a few of her letters to Lydia Davis, say?) and the letters are not interesting in themselves, but they are worth reading to hear how much more herself she is in the stories ... The more extended memories offered in Welcome Home delight and illuminate, either despite or because of the fact that nearly every line contains something we’ve seen before ... Why doesn’t it read as autofiction, quite? To read Welcome Home after Evening in Paradise after A Manual for Cleaning Women is to experience Berlin as a romanesco, or the hall of mirrors scene in The Lady from Shanghai. She approaches the same material in so many different ways, in so many different stories, that you see the art in action.