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Orientation: And Other Stories Hardcover – May 24, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2011: You would be hard pressed to find a more consistent collection of short stories than Daniel Orozco's Orientation: And Other Stories, which gives us a surprising glimpse into lives that are too strange for a novel, but too fascinating to ignore. "The Bridge" tells us about bridge painters, who must, with some regularity, talk people down from throwing themselves off bridges. "I Run Every Day" profiles a boy whose embrace of isolation and his jogging routine leads him to commit a terrible act. But "Hunger Tales," the stickiest story in the book, is a series of deeply affecting vignettes about how the things we eat can make us feel guilt, loneliness, and comfort all at the same time. Orozco, whose work has been featured in McSweeney's, Harper's, and Best American Short Stories, recalls the melancholic tone of Dave Eggers (especially if you've read his short stories in How We Are Hungry) paired with the wit of George Saunders and a trace of Joyce Carol Oates's dark humor. But Orozco’s voice is unique, even if it is universally felt. --Kevin Nguyen

Product Description
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.


“Inspired . . . acidly comic . . . virtuosic.” —Ted Weesner, The Boston Globe

“‘Temporary Stories,’ the eighth entry in Daniel Orozco’s debut collection, Orientation (Faber and Faber), is a gem and a killer. Not since Henry James’s ‘In the Cage’ has a writer so perfectly captured the anxieties of interacting with the public for pay. Somehow, Orozco manages to convey James’s psychological acuity with one-tenth of his clauses, mingling it with Steven Millhauser’s sense of lunatic joy.” —Eugenia Williamson, The Boston Phoenix

“Orozco’s long-anticipated collection, Orientation and Other Stories, holds a cracked Barthelme-meets-Kafka-esque mirror to this twenty-first-century American life.” —Megan O’Grady, Vogue

“[Orozco’s] cracked characters grip like Krazy Glue.” —Lisa Shea, Elle

“These nine darkly funny, profoundly compassionate stories take as their subject the loneliness particular to contemporary culture . . . ‘You can’t know anybody, not really, not in the brief overlaps of flimsy acquaintance, nor in the tenuous and fleeting opportunities for connection that we are afforded,’ thinks a man about to be shot for the $60 in his wallet. But the real genius here is the subtle accumulation of evidence to the contrary—the insistence that even in the office cubicle, or between the lines of the police blotter, human contact is sought after and made.” —More magazine

“The moment you begin this incomparable debut, you’ll discover why Daniel Orozco’s fans have been shouting his praises for years. In these wildly original stories, single details reveal whole human lives; the impersonal dissolves seamlessly into the personal; the geological transforms into the psychological; and the short story itself breaks open to reveal previously unimagined possibility. This may be Orozco’s first collection, but he’s nothing short of a master.” —Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge and How to Breathe Underwater

Orientation is a wonderful collection of stories. ‘Somoza’s Dream’ alone is worth the price of the ticket. But that’s not fair, because the same could be said of ‘Officers Weep,’ ‘Shakers,’ and every single story in this stunning piece of literary art.” —David Means, author of The Spot

Orientation is a seriously good book—beautifully written, rigorous, funny, brokenhearted, smart, and without a hint of pretense. Orozco has achieved that rare thing, his own prose rhythm, and the truth of it is a pleasure to the ear.” —Adam Haslett, author of Union Atlantic

“I became a fan of Daniel Orozco when I first read the story ‘Orientation’ back in the 1990s. I’ve been waiting eagerly for this collection ever since, and I’m so grateful to have it in my hands at last. Orozco is a vital American writer, and this book is cause for celebration.” —Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

“At a time when trivial tales are often expanded and diluted into book-length narratives, Daniel Orozco’s Orientation brings hope for the return of serious short-form storytelling. The stories in this collection make one marvel at the bigness of their creator’s mind—each of them has the depth and scope of a novel. Orozco has both the relentlessness and the compassion of a truly great writer.” —Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants

“This book brims with big, deadly surprises and sharp, hallucinatory images. Orozco can do anything: first, second, third person; he can explode moments into whole stories, and dash through lifetimes in a paragraph. Orientation contains nine unsettling, boundary-crossing, and exquisitely-fashioned stories—and I won't be surprised when it becomes a classic.” —Anthony Doerr, author of The Shell Collector and Memory Wall


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 162 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865478538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865478534
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,298,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Ettner on May 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"This book has been a long time coming," Daniel Orozco observes in the Acknowledgments page at the end of "Orientation and Other Stories," his terrific collection of nine short stories. The book assembles all of the pieces Orozco has published thus far in literary magazines (both print and online), starting with the title story which he conceived nearly 20 years ago.

Recently, Orozco was interviewed by the local newspaper in the town of Moscow, Idaho, where he teaches fiction writing at the University of Idaho. Describing his painstakingly slow path in composition, he revealed he might spend a week writing a paragraph and a month writing a page. He said this was "a way that makes me feel comfortable about moving on."

It's no surprise, then, to find every one of the nine stories in "Orientation and Other Stories" to be of consistently high quality. This consistency does not come from Orozco chaining himself to one comfortable formula or style. No, he manages to pull something different and original out of the hat at each performance.

Thematic links do appear among the stories. Although Orozco can be satirical (especially in several of the stories that take place in office settings) and flat out hilarious (as in the farcical mutual seduction of two cops in "Officers Weep"), his overriding interest is in deadly serious matters: what it means to be alive ("this feeling that you're part of a world with other people in it, and that you matter because somebody else seems to think you do'); why human connections are so difficult ("you get where you are by yourself"); how living our modern, pretend lives (building imaginary connections) dooms us. Some of these stories will make you shiver in self-recognition.
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An impressive collection that displays the author's considerable talent because the stories are so diverse - both in their premises and in their technique, ranging from extended narrations (in "Orientation") to police reports ("Officers Weep") to a sweeping bird's eye view that pans over and across all the lives of the people affected by an earthquake ("Shakers"). The 9 stories in the collection are:

1. Orientation - 10 pp - In the form of an extended narration, an experienced employee gives an office tour to a newbie, giving him all the rules of cubicle decorum and gossipy insights into the characters that occupy each desk. Gets increasingly bizarre and hilarious as it builds to the revelation that one of the workers is a serial killer at night. ("Don't bother him.")

2. The Bridge - 8 pp - A story that offers great, detailed descriptions of the work involved in repainting massive bridges. A new guy joins the crew, and gets the nickname "Baby," and has to deal with the hardest part of the job - watching jumpers leap to their death.

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Format: Hardcover
Orientation is a collection of nine short stories by Daniel Orozco. Although he has been widely published in several respected literary publications (McSweeney's, Harper's and Best American Short Stories), this is Orozco's first book. He is not widely known. Amazon selected this book as one of its best of May 2011. His fame should change with this book.

The title story is a first person plural story about the first day in the office. It is funny and biting and brings to mind a novel about office life told in the first person plural by Jonathan Ferris, Then We Came to the End. Another story, The Bridge, is about the life of bridge painters and their role in talking people off the edge of the bridge. Temporary Stories tells the story of a woman's temporary employment in three jobs. Hunger Tales is series of stories about eating and the emotions of several characters. Officer's Weep was incredibly creative. It is the love story of two police officers told through a police reports. Highly creative, readable and fun.

Each story has a perfect narrative tension, which grips the reader's attention throughout. Each word in the story is carefully selected. Each character comes across with a unique voice.

My recommendation is simple: read this collection. It is worth it. Enjoy it.
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Format: Hardcover
What struck me most about this collection of nine stories was the authors' use of a variety of topics, settings, perspectives and formats. It includes: a newly hired bridge painter's struggle to deal with a disturbing incident, an earthquake's effect on all sorts of creatures, a triplet of binge eaters, a temp worker's reactions to her various assignments, contrasting perspectives of a murder, a police blotter-style beat cop romance, and the Dilbertesque title story. In summary, Orientation, not your ordinary short story collection, is a great choice for those who like to read outside the box. Also good: Blind Willow Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami New Sudden Fiction: Short-Stories from America and Beyond by James Thomas and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.
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