The House of Order
In The House of Order, John Paul Jaramillo’s collection of composite stories, the reader finds an in-depth look at multiple generations of a flawed and fractured family. The plot follows the narrator, Manito Ortiz, as he attempts to write down the many stories and recollections from his Uncle Tio Neto, while recording often painful memories from his own life. All of these stories comment on the fact that many generations of Manito’s family have suffered trials and tribulations perpetuated by abuse, alcohol, and drugs.
Rather than choose the novel as the form for his storytelling, Jaramillo breaks his narrative into short stories, enacting the fractured content of his stories with a fractured form. Further fracturing the stories are the narrators themselves. In fact both Manito and Tio Neto are incredibly unreliable. The memories of both are muddied by drunken stupor, drug use, trauma from their past, and in Tio Neto’s case, old age. The reader also must wonder in many instances if the events recounted in the stories have been altered either out of pain, or in some cases, shame. The narrator mentions at one point that “the collective memory of the family and of little Neto broke down.” And that is exactly what this series of short stories is: a collective memory and a montage of the hard lives of Jaramillo’s characters.
Spanning from Southern Colorado to Northern New Mexico, the entire collection is infused with the culture of its characters. Even for the non-Spanish speaker, context clues can fill in the blanks for the bilingual moments within the book.
Raw and highly emotional at times, Jaramillo’s stories give a realistic look in to the lives of his characters as he presents short vignettes that hint at a deeper family saga. His style is easy to read and his concise wording retains a surprising amount of detail. All in all, The House of Order is a compelling set of stories and should Jaramillo continue to present such fantastic storytelling, there is no doubt he will gain many new readers.
|Anaphora Literary Press
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|Poetry & Short Stories