BookBrowse Reviews Orientation by Daniel Orozco

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


And Other Stories

by Daniel Orozco

Orientation by Daniel Orozco X
Orientation by Daniel Orozco
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2011, 176 pages
    May 2012, 176 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

Buy This Book

About this Book



A dark and humorous collection of short stories about everyday, eccentric people in our modern world

Here is a collection of short stories that excites me. The author's talent is evident from the opening page, and the brevity of the stories enables busy readers like me to enjoy them in the small bits of free time we have to read. Daniel Orozco's characters and modern, mostly work-life settings add up to a rare type of writing: short stories that read like mini page-turners. Orientation is filled with people very similar to ourselves and to those we encounter every day, but instead of being humdrum - as our lives can sometimes seem - these characters are captivating for their eccentricities, coping methods, compulsions, and for the spark of recognition they ignite in us.

The collection contains nine titled stories, all previously published as solo pieces, spanning more than a decade of Orozco's career. Two of them, "Hunger Tales" and "Temporary Stories," are broken into several small vignettes; the former concerns emotions and obsessions that create insatiable desire, whether for a certain brand of chocolate chip cookie or for any food substance within reach. The latter follows a favored temp agency employee, Clarissa Snow, through three challenging work assignments. The title story, as well as four others, tackle the modern world of the employed: people entering new jobs, co-workers growing intimate, and, in one story, purposefully detached.

In "Somoza's Dream," Orozco explores the bizarre world of a retired - or, more accurately, exiled - dictator living a life of bored luxury, and in "Shakers," the author dissects the interconnecting influence the waves of a California earthquake have among that state's diverse residents and passers-through. My least favorite story, "Only Connect," describes a mugging and shooting and the response of the only witness, a lonely paralegal assistant named Hailey, who the thieves inexplicably allow to leave the scene unharmed. I suspect, however, that it was more the content - cruelty rising out of desperation - that bothered me more than any flaw in the story.

Many of the tales in Orientation have a hurried, almost stream of consciousness delivery, but despite the voluminous flow of words, I hardly had to back track or re-read since Orozco uses this fast pace to capture the familiar buzz of internal thought. The stories set in the work environment resonated so well that it was hard not to wonder if the author had ever worked any of the odd jobs he describes, or one of the many I have suffered through in the past. His style is tough to describe, with sentences tight and loose in all the right places, characters who are simultaneously sympathetic and repulsive, and a tone born of a mixture of irony, ultra realism and absurd humor.

Orozco is not afraid to delve into the weird or the extreme, particularly when they intersect with the life of a so-called average person. He deftly captures the subconscious unease of our disconnected modern life. This collection is a testament to the value that precise craft brings to the most succinct prose genre. Orientation is a great choice for short story lovers as well as fans of subtle writing colored with dark wit aimed at our modern existence.

Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie

This review was originally published in June 2011, and has been updated for the May 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Brass
    by Xhenet Aliu
    In 1996, Waterbury, Connecticut is a town of abandoned brass mills. Eighteen-year-old Elsie ...
  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The French Girl
    by Lexie Elliott

    An exhilarating debut psychological suspense novel for fans of Fiona Barton and Ruth Ware.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Beartown

Now in Paperback!

From the author of a A Man Called Ove, a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

T I M A Slip B C A L

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.