Orientation introduces a writer at the height of his powers, whose work surely invites us to reassess the landscape of American fiction.
Breakfast's boiled egg, the overhead hum of fluorescent lights, the midmorning coffee break - the reassurance of daily routine keeps the world running. But when pushed - by a coworker's taunt, a face-to-face encounter with a woman in free fall - cracks appear and reveal alienation, casual cruelty, madness, and above all a simultaneous hunger for and fear of the unknown.
In this fantastically original debut collection, Daniel Orozco leads the reader through the secret lives and moral philosophies of bridge painters, men housebound by obesity, office temps, and warehouse workers. Orozco reveals the secret pleasures of late-night supermarket trips for cookie binges, exceptional data entry, and an exiled dictator's occasional piss on the U.S. embassy. The stories are formally inventive: a love affair blooms between two officers in the impartially worded pages of a police blotter; a new employee's first-day office tour includes descriptions of other workers' most private thoughts and actions; during an earthquake, the consciousness of the entire state of California shakes free for examination. Each story in the collection has a gut-punch impact, softened only by lyricism and black humor. Orozco is a major new talent and an important addition to the landscape of American fiction.
Those are the offices and these are the cubicles. That's my cubicle there, and this is your cubicle. This is your phone. Never answer your phone. Let the Voicemail System answer it. This is your Voicemail System Manual. There are no personal phone calls allowed. We do, however, allow for emergencies. If you must make an emergency phone call, ask your supervisor first. If you can't find your supervisor, ask Phillip Spiers, who sits over there. He'll check with Clarissa Nicks, who sits over there. If you make an emergency phone call without asking, you may be let go.
These are your in- and out-boxes. All the forms in your in-box must be logged in by the date shown in the upper-left-hand corner, initialed by you in the upper-right-hand corner, and distributed to the Processing Analyst whose name is numerically coded in the lower-left-hand corner. The lower-right-hand corner is left blank. Here's your Processing Analyst Numerical Code Index. And here's your Forms Processing ...
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.
(Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Full Review (598 words).
In the story "The Bridge" from Daniel Orozco's collection of short stories Orientation, one man is traumatized when he witnesses a woman commit suicide by jumping from the bridge he's employed to paint. Though the story is fictional, suicide jumping is an all too frequent occurrence in real life. The Golden Gate Bridge, located in San Francisco, California, holds the macabre record for being the world's most popular suicide point, with an estimated 1,550 deaths having occurred at the national landmark. The pedestrian walkway stands approximately 220 feet above the San Francisco Bay, and, according to an article in The New Yorker (2003), "Jumpers who hit the water do so at about seventy-five miles an hour and with a force of ...
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