There Can Be Days

One of my best and oldest friends asked, “Are you happy?”

“On a scale of one-to-ten?” she asked.

The questions are a loop annoying my mind.

This morning, the scratches over my stomach and ribcage are red, long, intersecting, sore, and pretty.

I felt this thrilling sense as I read Daniel Orozco’s debut story story collection, Orientation, that Orozco was a rule-breaker, risk-taker, and rebel craftsman.

Orozco’s nine stories read respectively as: A new employee’s office orientation told in monologue; four portraits of insatiable hunger and strange desires; disturbing snapshots from the life of a long-distance runner; the last, horrific chronicles of The Presidente-in-Exile; a startling and moving police blotter report; a series of ill-fated and harrowing connections; unforgettable excerpts from the life of a temporary office employee; and chilling and glorious accounts of a Bay Area earthquake told from countless locations and points-of-views.

These nine stories are often fragmented, messy, jarring, and even sometimes abortive. The stories are also brilliant and wonderfully surprising, interesting, original, and affecting.

God, they made me feel.

“Are you happy, Ethel?”

“On a scale of one-to-ten?”

Write me a story, Daniel Orozco. Put me in that story, Daniel Orozco. Break rules, take risks and be your rebel you, Daniel Orozco. Make everything less hard and scary, Daniel Orozco. Give my story an ending as exquisite as Clarissa Snow’s in “Temporary Stories” or that of the owner of the forgotten Honda in “Shakers.”

An excerpt from “Shakers”:

“Out here they go on about how the light chisels, how it polishes and defines the edges of whatever it falls upon and imparts a dazzling clarity. They go on about how the light comes down around you in curtains or how it pours and spills like honey. It gleams and glints, it sparks and flares. The light has weight, it has density, it is palpable. Sometimes you can even hear it, zinging metallic and bright! What crap. When they aren’t steeped in the cliched golden hues of a shampoo commercial, the skies most days are an insipid palette of white and blueish white and yellowish white. Every vista is dull and bleary, a sun-bleached smudge in the distance. And nothing is chiseled. Everything you look at is foreshortened, flat and common as a souvenir poster. Although there can be days–those mornings of unseasonable fog when the sunlight is filtered through a fragile veil of cloud that renders the air itself luminous as milk; or the clear, cloudless afternoon when you’re walking under a canopy of trees or through the lobby of a building downtown, and just before moving out of the shade, you take off your sunglasses and stand there a moment and anticipate entering the world of sunlight.”

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