John Orozco
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John Orozco
170 pages
rated 2 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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With desktop publishing no more than a key click away, authors are now able to see their mind-generated manuscripts come to life. Technology is a good thing - usually. And it is for our author here. There is a sense of humor, an emotional pool, and an intellectual curiousity all present in the books but you have to be really willing to laugh, absolutely ready to give of yourself straight from the heart, and interested in exercising your brain. That is, Orozco seems to have the pieces, it's just that it's almost impossible to find them.

"You might think I'm stupid for shooting off my big toe, but at the time it seemed like a good idea." Right away, you know this is a Vietnam-era book, because draftees many times would inflict this type of wound to extricate themselves from conscription. Conceivably the book was written about the period circa 1973 or '74 or '75, near the end of the war, when the U.S. decided to jump ship. It was an interesting time in the world, and the author manages to capture small moments of that long gone time - there just aren't enough of them.

The titular main character is a Quixotic type, charging at windmills, charging at women, charging purchases, but generally charging up the wrong hill. He attends college and yes, there are engaging elements, but they've been written about before and in more elaborate and enthusiastic fashion.

This is a book that ends where it begins. That is, our lead man decides to ghost-write a book for a friend - or, actually, it's difficult to decide whether Winston Ashford Gonzales is a confidant or a con man. The last paragraph is: "I picked up a pen and turned to a clean page of the tablet. You might think I'm stupid for shooting off my big toe, but at the time it seemed like a good idea."

This type of backwards-to-forwards idea always seems forced; consequently the flow of the book never finds its own natural rhythm. John Orozco has other books in him and when he gets around to his sophomore attempt, I'll be there.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2005

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