Saturday, February 25, 2012

Short Story Club: "Orientation" by Daniel Orozco

Welcome to Short Story Club, thanks so  much for coming. Let’s see, I think you know just about everybody - Oh, here, Tucker will take your coat. Go ahead and have a seat, and whatever you do, don’t leave without trying one of Orlando’s peanut-butter squares. They’re to die for.

So what did everybody think about “Orientation?” Tucker jumped the gun a little bit when I first posted the story, so I’ll kick things off with his reaction:
“OK, I didn't like it.
“Let me be more specific: I liked the "idea" but I didn't like the "execution." Once I read the first page, I realized that the story was essentially THAT (except for a little blurb about a serial killer).
“In short, to me, the story has nothing that makes it interesting. In fact, it's terribly uninteresting.
“I didn't like it.”
I can kind of see where he’s coming from- the story’s definitely not a thrill ride- but I think that’s precisely the point. “Terribly uninteresting” sounds like a pretty apt description of the cubicle life Orozco’s trying to convey. If you mean, Tucker, that the story gets repetitive, then fine. I’ll agree with you. I think that’s the intent. You get a taste in four pages of the career-length hell that awaits the speechless protagonist. Most of us don’t have to work at “Initech” to relate to that in some way. John Williams had this to say about Orozco’s collection in the NY Times Sunday Book Review:
The stories in Daniel Orozco’s debut collection convey a sense of workplace alienation that would make Karl Marx cringe. The opening lines of “Orientation,” the first story, place us squarely under the fluorescent lights of comically absurd employment: “Those are the offices and these are the cubicles. That’s my cubicle there, and this is your cubicle. This is your phone. Never answer your phone. Let the Voicemail System answer it. This is your Voicemail System Manual.”
Workplace alienation. Comically absurd employment. If that’s what Orozco was going for. I think he nailed it. What did you think? Sound off in the comments.

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