That being said, The HOUSE of Order is the definitive example of why you never want to judge a book by its cover. Jaramillo is schooled in creative fiction and earns his keep imparting his knowledge as a Professor of English. He shows off his chops in his latest offering.
My initial concern over the cover is also a testament as to why you don't want to judge the parts without the picture of the whole.
Jaramillo weaves a story through snapshots, snapshots posing as individual stories.
HOUSE of Order is made up of 16 unique short stories, any of which has the strength to work as a standalone providing an excellent example of short fiction. Through his pacing, the voice of his characters, even down to the feel of the setting, Jaramillo gives textbook examples of how one goes about the crafting of an effective and compelling short story.
However, it is what follows, the extra step that Jaramillo gives us, in my humble opinion, that sets HOUSE of Order apart from a mere "collection" of short stories. The true beauty of the book is understood when you finish it and take a step back (or more likely a deep breath). Often one is told that the forest is missed for attention given to the trees. Here Jaramillo has created exactly the opposite.
While the stories individually shine, when viewed in total, they simply radiate brilliance. Jaramillo has not only provided us 16 wonderfully crafted tales, his selection of which short stories to provide give us a work that is cohesive and quite solid.
Many a collection of short stories blends together a series of unrelated tales that serve as little more than fodder to add space between the front and back covers of the book. With House of Order Jaramillo takes you into a blended tale of coming of age, of the ills of growing old, the pains and rewards of living only for the moment and, though there are some incredibly bleak points, of the promise of hope.
Set in the American Southwest we are privileged with the opportunity to learn a bit about the intersecting lives of two men. While we start with one clearly the others elder, as HOUSE of Order progresses, the snapshots Jaramillo shares a poignant picture of not only the past but the future of these two intertwined life stories.
Fans of literary fiction and fans of short story collections would enjoy this book.
At the end of the day, don't be disturbed by the cover, you'll enjoy, and likely come to love, what Jaramillo offers. In the end the only emotion that will likely disappoint is that you will be left wanting more. Hopefully Jaramillo’s ever-growing base of fans won’t have to wait too long.