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review 2014-11-30 12:35
Multiple Representation!
Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls - Matt Ruff



Two characters with DID (well, MPD; the book's old and outdated), one with awareness and having been in therapy for years, one with no idea what's going on.


Incredibly well-written. I don't really know what exactly to say about it or what makes it so well-written but it was just so...normal and relatable and realistic to us it was fucking fantastic.


I love it.


Highly recommend.




(ps it's quite triggery in parts, obviously, csa etc, but extra trigger warning for systems reading this regarding integration. Though it's done quite well, tbh, and is painted as a bad thing/not the ideal outcome of therapy for most systems.)

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review 2014-11-02 00:00
Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls
Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls - Matt Ruff
"I was dead.
That in itself didn't concern me much. I'd never been afraid of death. Of dying, yes; of a painful end, or a premature one - important things left undone - definitely. But the thought of actually being dead held no particular terror for me. I remembered the moment of my birth, and having come out of the dark, it seemed only right that I should eventually return there. The scary parts were all in-between."

I've always wondered what differentiated the thinker and the schizophrenic. You see, I am always thinking, my mind is always going and very rarely slows down. At times I may talk to myself and may even demonstratively answer myself. Any stranger on the street would assume I'm crazy, but when you don't go to the doctor you can never be 100% certain one way or another, rest assured I'm not crazy. The author takes all of the scary, humorous, unpredictable, and overall day-to-day struggles of mental illness and tells it in a real smart way. A book like this could easily come across as gimmicky and trying, but NOT THIS ONE. The author tells the story as if he is conveying to the reader what is going on within the minds of the confounding. It definitely takes a while to get a grasp on but once you do it is so rewarding and refreshing to read a book where the author is challenging the reader rather than playing to the crowd with a light, breezy, accessible read.

"Think instead of a rosebush, torn apart by a storm. The branches get scattered all over the garden, but they don't just lie there; they take root again, and try to grow, which isn't as easy now that they are competing with one another for space and light. Still, they manage - most of them manage - and what you end up with, ten or twenty years after the storm, is not one rosebush but a multitude of rosebushes. Some of them are badly stunted; maybe all of them are smaller than they would have been if they'd each had a garden of their own. But they are more, much more, than a simple collection of puzzle pieces."

Andrew Gage is reborn at twenty-six-years-old he knows very little of his past except that his step-father Horace Rollins was a sadistic man who relishes in fulfilling his sexual desires and destroying souls in the process. Thanks to Andrew's father and years of inventive psychological techniques his house is finally in order. Andrew is a "multiple" meaning he has lived a life of internal chaos with a cluttered and crowded house which left him in an abyss struggling to get to the surface. Not to mention the physical abuse that he has experienced, he is content at the place he is currently at in life after years of hard work and rehabilitation. Andrew was born and raised in Seven Lakes, Michigan and later moved to Autumn Creek, Washington where the book is predominately set. Andrew is primarily dealing with controlling the soul of a loud five-year-old child, an obnoxious flirtatious ladies man, a Greek martial arts practitioner, a human lie detector, a sweet maternal pool shark as well as some secondary characters. This book sounds like a lot of fun, right? The potential for precarious situations, good times, and great hijinks is off the charts. Well what if you add another character afflicted with the same condition, what would happen then?

Penny Driver is in a bad state in her life. Sure her abusive, controlling, demonic mom is dead, her horrifying high-school days are a distant memory, and she is a long ways away from her childhood home town. Then why are bad things always happening to her? Why is she always wondering where she is? Why she's in another strange man's bed? What day it is? And why does it always keep happening? Seeing that she often loses plenty of time, she has trouble holding a job and she just doesn't understand what's happening. She doesn't know it, but she has multiple personality disorder. At the worst of times she can be a foul-speaker, an evil-doer, a woman of easy virtue, or a listless drone. At her most "healthy" state she is a young woman lacking a self-worth which is evident by her perception that she is a "worthless piece of shit." One thing she has going for her is she is a hell of a computer programmer which proves to be serendipitous as she meets a strange young man with a very common problem that she knows nothing about.

" 'Andrew?' says Mouse.
'Penny' says Andrew.
And then, in unison: 'Where are we?'
'You're on the planet Mongo,' says the old drunk. 'I'm Flash Gordon and this ugly fellow' - he gestures towards the bartender - 'is Ming the Merciless.'
The bartender, playing along, grabs an empty beer mug and holds it up in a mock salute.
'Welcome to our galaxy,' he says. 'Would you like some milk?' "

This is an ambitious novel and with that the reader should expect some initial difficulties getting in line with the flow the author is trying to conjure. My advice, just read the initial section without trying to complicate matters and you will be fine. I really enjoy reading stories from the point of view of characters that have a certain ailment and this book didn't disappoint. There is no sugar coating the matter and if you don't like it, go away, and if you don't get it, it's your loss. If there was one gripe I had it would be the use of the fantasy world. The depths the author went into the characters mind showcased the detailed thought processes, but happened to lose me in the process. This gripe is more to personal tastes and doesn't reflect my overall thoughts on the book. The author deserves a lot of credit for taking the chance and avoiding the safe route of a secondhand narrative and putting the reader in the shoes of the mentally challenged. This is a story of characters approaching a life of complicated truths and doing their best to try to overcome them. This book is highly recommended.

"If you're like me, you waste a lot of time being scared. Years, maybe. Then one day you decide you're sick of that, you don't want to be afraid or guilty anymore, and you try to get help. And if you're lucky, and you get the right help, and you don't get betrayed...eventually you work past it. When it stops being scary and starts being a pain in the ass, that's when you know you've made real progress."

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review 2013-09-20 01:27
Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls
Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls - Matt Ruff

Andy Gage, original owner of the body, is dead. The main character of this novel is Andrew, one of the souls that now inhabits the body and has control of it most of the time. His father is Aaron, another soul and the leader of the house in the body's head wherein countless other souls reside.


If this sounds confusing, then one of the best things I can say about this novel is that, by the time you get a few chapters in, Andrew's house, soul-hierarchy, and multiple personality disorder are entirely unremarkable facts.


Through the book, Andrew finds himself helping a woman named Mouse or Penny (or a few others), while two houses become less stable, one gets knocked down, and someone doesn't go to prison for murder.


'“Come on,” he says, taking her hand. “It’ll be fine.”
Mouse shakes her head: Oh no it won’t. Andrew, smiling—how does he stay so calm?—leans in close enough to whisper.
“Don’t be afraid,” he tells her. “We have him outnumbered.”'

-Andrew and Mouse

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review 2012-04-27 00:00
The House of Order: Stories
The House of Order: Stories - John Paul ... The House of Order: Stories - John Paul Jaramillo This is a very personal collection of short stories and none of them left me with a feeling of hope. It is a stark picture into one Latino family living in poverty amidst the concrete and weeds, the alcohol and abuse, and then of course there are the rabbits (ok I had to mention rabbits because I have a soft spot in my heart for bunnies). “Esta las historias de la familia” within the pages of John Paul Jaramillo's “The House Order” will leave you sad, despondent and wanting to rescue this grown child and his own family, from falling into the same footsteps his alcoholic father did.

The collection begins with Manito and his Uncle Neto sitting out back, amongst the weeds and urban decay of a neighborhood behind the family room with the backdrop of a failing steel mill. The thread that binds these as more than just a collection but a well segued group of tales leading you through Manito's, the protagonist, own journey to discover the truth of their “historia”. Each title binds the symbolism within each story. After Uncle Neto finishes telling another Ortez family tale the title becomes relevant.

It is hard to label this an actual collection of short stories, it is more like a condensed taste of reality within the 108 pages and a beautiful cover. It is not a quick read, a few hours, but I took my time mainly because the stories were so dense with meaning and realism. The Ortez's are a characterization of many “familias”in American today. This is not a story for Latino's and just Latino's, the machismo, the abuse, the abandoning of children and alcoholism is a problem with many impoverished in this country. In today's struggling economy the situations that crop up over and over within the Ortez “familia” are mirrored within the stories. There is a choice Manito must make, with where this leads him, to break free “de liberarse” of the apron strings that drag him out the door? Or to let himself go down the path with her. What will it be?

Go grab your copy today, the book is beautiful, dark and though I will not be reading it again, I will be sharing it with many of my friends who can emotionally handle reading this.I was left depressed and brooding.

Who would I recommend it too? People that love well crafted, deep literary fiction. Who like art in their words when presented with a stark reality and sociologists! Yep, this would be a GREAT book to include in a sociological study. I already am planning on handing it over to my friend up at the university who is doing a study on the third generation Mexican Americans and the Machismo factor (or something to that effect).

My rating scale is as such:

5 stars for the cover design: The cover made no sense to me at first, then I got it. This is raw, exposed and rough. It is not pretty, painted and standing on a corner with a pill box hat. Deal with it move on and screw you I like my longs black. The cover is amazing.

4 Stars for the writing: Exquisite. There are a few problems I found in places where the flow was just to in erupted with the use of Spanish everywhere. Not just when characters are speaking but continually used in the monologue with Manito. I used it in the review to prove a point, it kind of derailed me a bit.

3 stars for character development: There were a lot to deal with. I think there could have been a bit tightening up of some of the development and less focus on others. It was almost like a rabbit hutch. To many, and I did re-read a bit. This could have been because I was derailed by the language usage.

3 stars for the “like” scale. I like it. I did not really like it and I did not love it. I have had enough despair and seen enough ugliness and depravity in my life I can handle crying in a book, but this book had me very sad and depressed. I was already struggling through some things while I read it but I doubt even if I was so happy I was about to burst would I give it higher than three on the Kriss LIKE scale! But you may definitely love it, I know many did.

In all it has a rating of 3.75 stars(so 4 here on Goodreads)
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review 2012-04-08 00:00
The House of Order: Stories
The House of Order: Stories - John Paul Jaramillo ‘The House of Order’ is a collection of short stories. I guess it would be more appropriate to describe it as a collection of snippets off the Ortiz family saga. The Ortiz family is highly dysfunctional as the men are abusive and the women strive to have a normal life. Manito is one of the most important characters and is featured in almost all the stories.

The writer’s style of writing and his language is quite unique. I have not had an opportunity to read anything like this before and thus it was a new experience for me – one that I enjoyed thoroughly. John has put a healthy dose of Spanish words in it and so I had to keep the online translator open and constantly refer to it. I have learnt quite a few new words! The equations between each character are different and mostly enjoyable.

The only negative part about the book is that sometimes it gets too confusing to understand who is narrating the story. Otherwise this is quite a wholesome book that is bound whet the appetite of a wide range of bookworms.
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