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Posted July 28, 2012
John Paul Jaramillo's first collection of short stories is purposely composite and minimalistic, setting up a metaphoric "fractured" form that is echoed in the thematic arcs about three generations of the broken Ortiz family. Manito, a semi-orphaned young Chicano growing up in southern Colorado, is featured in many of the stories. Manito attempts to discover what it means to be a man by studying his older relatives and listening to their stories, mostly filtered through his "unreliable" Tio Neto. But which version of his family members is the correct one? From his Abuelo, Manito learns that a man works hard and takes pride in work that brings in money to support a family. But Manito's Abuelo is also Neto's Jefe, who taught by threats, slaps, shouting, and humiliation. Despite the harsh realities, Jaramillo brings readers glimpses of light. We see the strength of Manito's Abuela Cordelia. We see the depth of Cordelia's mother love, which nurtures more frequently than it dismisses, and ultimately influences Manito's truer self--the young man who yearns to save as well as be saved--to emerge from the darker Ortiz legacy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2012
The House of Order by John Paul Jaramillo
Release Date: December 17th, 2011
Publisher: Anaphora Literary
Page Count: 105
Source: Novel Publicity for review, as part of the John Paul Jaramillo book tour
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 Stephanie Thinks: Urban 20th century Chicano culture is resurrected through Jaramillo's compilation of short, but vivid vignettes. Each of his stories pack a powerful punch in teaching life lessons and the scary side of human emotion through a Hispanic, yet completely universal, point of view.
Even though each of the anecdotes came together well, I can't say I particularly found this book fascinating. The writing style is rather dull, and the entire plot, I just don't get. I know there are different perspectives and different events that shape Manito's family's past, but oftentimes these shifts in narration are confusing (mostly because they aren't explicitly stated, and if they are, it's about halfway through the chapter) and the events seem to have a greater meaning and symbolism to them, that are not thoroughly explained.
Jaramillo has a keen sense of detail and recurrence in his prose, but for someone with an MFA in creative writing, I can't say his style is anything extraordinary — I would consider it less than satisfactory, in fact. It not only lacks intrigue, but also coherence — so much, that I found myself lost in between the pages of this collection of stories multiple times.
When it comes to family sentiment and cultural significance, however, this one hits high notes that I think will settle well with fellow literature nuts. Manito's story carries potent blessings and heartbreaking revelations that all audiences will be able to understand and enjoy.
Stephanie Loves: "If he hadn't been so restless, he wouldn't have wanted to escape the Jefe's house as much as possible to explore and imagine."
Radical Rating: 6 hearts-Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back.
Posted May 4, 2012
The House of Order is a collection of stories about the dysfunctional family of Relles “Manito” Ortiz told by different members of the family, grandparents, uncles and aunts. The way this story was written was at first hard for me to grasp but after a few stories I was engrossed in the story of this very poor family. From when the characters were little to where they are flawed adults the stories bounce back and forth . There is lots of rough language and circumstances but this all contributes to the life that these people live. Harsh, sometimes sad but often funny. I especially loved the Jefe and Jefita,grandparents, that made me laugh more than once although I was not too crazy about how some of the men treated the women but that is the way it was.. unfortunately. A very interesting collection of stories for sure. If you love a raw and gritty family story then this is for you...
I received an e-copy of this book for review and was not monetarily compensated for my review.
Posted April 25, 2012
The House of Order by John Paul Jaramillo was different from everything I have read lately. There is nothing beautiful in this book, yet it draws you into it after you started reading the first pages. The environment and setting in the book is harsh, characters cruel and the stories hide nothing. The only beauty in this book is writing – John Paul Jaramillo is a man of few words, but it is amazing how much he can create with saying so little. Less is more is the key sentence of this book!
Regarding the plot:
The novel contains of stories where the narrator Manito is establishing a truth of his family through the stories told by his uncle Neto. There are sixteen stories in the book and each story gives Manito an understanding of his root and where he is coming from.
The setting is based in New Mexico, where the life is harsh after the steel industry has broken and the families try to survive. There is lot of social realism in this book; you get a clear picture of surroundings, where abuse of alcohol, drugs and women is normal and part of everyday life.
Another thing which stroke me while reading, was a use of symbols in the stories. I am not sure if it was intentional, but the titles of the stories seem very far of the content of the story and after finishing a story you realize that it has everything to do what Neto tells.
Regarding the characters:
The stories were told through Manito and uncle Neto, where Manito is listening and asking questions and Neto is a story teller.
Besides these two there were quite many other characters, but they are mostly shown through Neto’s stories. They are real, harsh and have lot of flaws.
As mentioned, there is one key sentence which is describing The House of Order – the less is more. It’s a novel which creates fascinating and ugly pictures of one family and the neighborhood. If you like literary fiction combined with social realism, The House of Order is definitely for you!
Posted April 4, 2012
This collection of stories is told by the narrator as he focuses on past family stories and circumstances that he sees in his Western America based relatives. The narrator Manito describes the lives of his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others who also knew his deceased father. The writing is quick, gritty, and full of extremely crude language and circumstances.
Not finding anything to compare it to, I think that the disjointed sentence structure reminds me of Cisneros’ House on Mango Street. However, Cisneros’ prose is prettier – not crude. This is HBO crude and rough. The circumstances are too depressing, but feel very real. As broken as everything seems, Manito’s interest in family narratives, in keeping ties with his family, lends some meaning to the tales. I had a difficult time reading the stories. It might be my own ignorance of a seedier world; it might be the lack of explanation in the writing. I had to reread passages to understand who was who, and in what time period the story was set. I’m not sure that I can form a clear opinion of the book. The writing would definitely appeal more to men.