Dianne's Reviews > Orientation: And Other Stories

Orientation by Daniel Orozco
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's review
Aug 01, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

It's a rare occasion to read a collection of stories as fine as all of these. Yes, all. Orozco's characters search for solace in their solitude, and find it where and if they can--sometimes not until the very last sentence of their stories.

Each story reminded me of jewelry--like small, beautiful pieces of enamelware, well-considered and carefully wrought--and I don't know if it's the strength of his writing, or the strength of his editing, but the efforts show. The metaphors, with the exception of one in the final piece "Shakers" are gorgeous. The characters look and sound like real people who work real jobs, even down to the Rilke quoting warehouse worker. Epiphanies are tucked into sentences that glimmer.

If you're looking for happiness, however, look elsewhere. There is debauchery lying low in sentences that depict a meth head and his lover, "They got a bottle of Hennessy and a bucket of friend chicken and lay in bed watching cable TV late into the morning," that feel somehow more disturbing than the fact they've shot a man in the midst of a robbery in "Only Connect." And characters who don't die also don't seem to mind if they would, as in the cook in "Somoza's Dream"--"It is the face of a woman who wouldn't care what you did to her."

A former Stegner fellow, Orozco has done Mr. Stegner proud. Violently so, but I think the old man might understand.
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