Title/Author: The House of Order: Stories by John Paul Jaramillo
Published: Dec. 2011, Ananphora Literary press
Format: Paperback and ebook
Blurb: The House of Order, the first collection of composite stories by John Paul Jaramillo, presents a stark vision of American childhood and family, set in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Manito Ortiz sorts family truth from legend as broken as the steel industry and the rusting vehicles that line Spruce Street. The only access to his lost family’s story is his uncle, the unreliable Neto Ortiz.
What I Liked:
The setting. I’m fascinated by New Mexico and the mix of cultures in this area as well as the lifestyle as experienced by the characters in The House of Order.
The brevity of description. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the author has managed to say so much with so few words. Every word counts in these stories making for intense but easy reading.
The characters. Each and everyone is deeply flawed and yet, I found myself sympathizing with them, caring about them since they were only doing the best they could in less than perfect circumstances. The stories are brutally honest in their portrayal of this tough NM life, not shying away from the violence and suffering inherent in everyday existence.
The story flow. The stories flowed together seamlessly, reading more like chapters of a novel than a collection of shorts.
What I Didn’t Like:
Too short! I wanted this to be a novel. I wanted the stories to continue, the scenes to expand, the characters to take more time growing and developing. That’s my only beef here. This collection could easily serve as chapters in a longer novel, and I’d love to read that.
My Rating: 4/5 – I very rarely give books 5 stars, but had this been a novel and not left me feeling a little cheated at a mere 108 pages, it’s quite possible it would get all five stars.
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