This is not your city by Caitlin Horrocks and Orientation by Daniel Orozco- reviews

Part of this is just trying to get caught up a bit, and part of this is wanting to get reviews up for a couple of books that are relatively new releases and for which a positive review could be a bit helpful (even if its from me). This Is Not Your City is by Caitlin Horrocks, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that her residing in Michigan didn’t help in getting me to pick up her book and read it.

This Is Not Your City already has a list of great reviews, and they’re well-earned. It’s a collection of eleven stories with women confronting extreme situations with what I would call a measured absurdity, such as writing postcards to her disabled child while stuck in her cabin on a cruise ship taken over by pirates. What I find somewhat funny is that the cruise ship hijacked by pirates part is no longer an absurd idea in itself, and that just to move a bit past reality, Horrocks is forced by the actual absurdities of the evening news to have a husband and wife partaking in a constantly evolving fantasy life aboard the cruise ship that is tethered to reality only through the postcards being written to their actual, disabled child.

I think that what I really liked about Horrocks’s collection is that the women characters were the leads, and they weren’t one-dimensional, they weren’t weak, they weren’t  blatantly out of control, even when trying to come to grips with taking a vacation while leaving your disabled kid home. It’s something that I haven’t seen pulled off as adeptly in other collections, and it was rather refreshing.  While I don’t want to paint with a roller here, I still see a tendency for female characters to be inherently weak or vulnerable, and the opposite is true for male characters, and it’s still seen as a strangely revelatory thing when a male character displays such traits. With this collection, the characters have a greater emotional equality.

While I got it out of the library (sorry), here’s a link to This Is Not Your City at Amazon.  There are also links to buy her book from her website that I linked to earlier, including from indiebound, a website that allows you connect with independent bookstores.

The second collection of stories I’ve read lately is Orientation by Daniel Orozco. I want to say the collection if funny, but I’m not sure that’s accurate. The first story is hilarious, as you are escorted around the cubicle office space from hell, complete with serial killers, stigmata sufferers and sexual dysfunctions. From there, though, it moves into a realm that’s closer to horror than humor. Every day, conventional lives ranging from a work crew who paint a bridge to a collection of stories about people in a supermarket to a deposed despot in exile showcase people who are trapped within the confines of the circumstances of their lives, broken only by the near random punctuation of violence – either self-inflicted or bizarrely random.

In the case of The Bridge, even the wrench thrown into the works in the form of a jumper falling past the newest member of the paint crew, is hinted at being part of a larger monotony. Other members of the crew talk about the first jumper each has witnessed, how one witnessed two in one week, etc., and they all treat the new guy with kid gloves but with the expectation that he will grow accustomed to it, and the sight of a person falling  past him to her death will become less traumatic with repetition.

My favorite story of the bunch, outside of Orientation, was probably Officer’s Weep. It’s written as an officer’s police log, documenting a budding romance between cop partners as they go about a night on duty. There is something about the form, and the star seriousness of the form that contradicts some of the content that is smirkingly enjoyable. It’s what you imagine the TV show Cops would be like if it was entertaining and not just a 30 minute human auto accident.


Alright, and here’s a link to the book on Amazon.


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