Wednesday, May 2, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥: The House of Order by John Paul Jaramillo

Release Date: December 17th, 2011
Publisher: Anaphora Literary
Page Count: 105
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author, via Novel Publicity, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!), 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 packs 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 come 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, but 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. ♥♥♥♥♥♥