Officers Weep: A Short Story
View all New York Times newsletters. The Somoza story, smack in the middle of the book, is the longest and by far the most distinct. Free from his usual people and settings, Orozco shows off the versatility of his skills, particularly in one bravura scene in which the telling of a bawdy joke is intertwined with the increasingly vile behavior of the comandantes enjoying it. Orozco can be overly fond of coincidence, and too credulous about its profundity.
He writes in a style that feels carefully tended but not overworked. His characters are short on time and hope, and mostly they know it. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser.
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Nine Stories, 16 Years in the Making: Post Bloomer Daniel Orozco - The Millions
A little frightening. Very frightening actually, but…. He looked into his heart and smiled with joy. How the sun shines!
It is as if it is young, and it wants to laugh and come down to the earth. He turned the pages reverently with his bony hand and the light, reflected off the white pages, fell on his face, setting it aglow.
His wife, who was standing next to him on her knees, silently kissed his other thin, bony hand, and wept. Her tears made it difficult for her to look, and in her eyes the dense lines of the script moved liked waves, breaking and dispersing.
She needed a living heart, not a dead book that everyone could read: strangers, uncaring and unloving. The typesetters ripped up the manuscript into shreds, each setting the shred he was given, which oftentimes began with only half a word and made no sense. What chicken scratch! The fingers of his hand were blackened by lead dust, his young face was covered in dark shadows of lead, and when the worker coughed and spit, his saliva was of that same dark, dead color.
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Another worker, also young—there was nobody old here—was fishing out the necessary letters with the dexterity and speed of a monkey, softly singing:. The others remained silent, coughing and spitting out dark saliva. An electric lamp was lit above each of them, and in the distance, behind a wall of wire mesh, one could trace dark silhouettes of machines at rest.
Patiently they held out their black knotty arms, pressing down onto the asphalt floor with their heavy mass. There were many of them, and timidly pressing onto them was the silent darkness, full of hidden energy, secret speech, and power. The books were arranged on the shelves in colorful rows, and one could not see the walls behind them; tall piles of books lay in stacks across the floor; and at the back of the shop, in two dark rooms, there were even more and more books.
Using both his arms and his legs he pushed forward a bundle of books; he tried lifting it with one arm but, failing to do so, he threw it back onto the floor.