Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: "Orientation and Other Stories" by Daniel Orozco

Two police officers who find themselves falling in love, documented in the pages of a police blotter. A group of bridge painters. A temporary worker who moves from long-term assignment to long-term assignment. An exiled dictator. A morbidly obese, housebound man. The characters that populate Daniel Orozco's great story collection, Orientation and Other Stories, aren't the usual characters around whom stories are based. And that makes each one all the more interesting and captivating.

I really enjoyed the majority of the stories in this collection. Orozco has a tremendously engaging style that pulls you in pretty quickly, and even if you cannot identify with the situations the characters find themselves within, you definitely want to see what transpires. The opening story, "Orientation," in which a new employee is given a tour of the office that includes far more information than where the copier is and whether personal phone calls are allowed, shows off Orozco's humor and lets you know fairly quickly that all will not be normal in his stories. My favorites included "Only Connect," in which a random invitation to a colleague's party has a ripple effect on a number of lives; "Officers Weep," which follows the budding relationship between two police officers, as chronicled in entries in the police blotter; "I Run Every Day," in which the narrator gets pushed too far by his coworkers' taunting; and "Temporary Stories," which follows a temporary worker from assignment to assignment and explores the relationships she forms—or avoids.

Orozco's voice is quirky yet insightful and deep, and I really enjoyed this collection a great deal, although not every story resonated for me. I find myself still thinking about some of the characters, and it would be interesting if Orozco expanded many of these stories into longer-length pieces. I definitely recommend this collection if you like stories with slightly off-center characters, or if you're a fan of great writing. You won't go wrong.

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