For seven-year-old M, the world is guided by a firm set of principles, based on her father D's life as a traveling salesman. Enchanted by her father's trade, M convinces him to take her along on his routes, selling hardware supplies amid the backdrop of Pinochet-era Chile. As she becomes part of a tight-knit community of fellow salesmen and grifters, M is regaled with parables and anecdotes that inform her "parallel education," D's excuse for letting her skip school without M's mother's knowledge. As father and daughter trek from town to town in their old Renault, M's memories and thoughts become tied to a language of rural commerce, philosophy, the cosmos, hardware products, and ghosts. M, in her innocence, barely notices the rising tensions and precarious nature of their work, until she and her father connect with an enigmatic photographer, E, whose presence threatens to upend the whimsical life they've created.
María José Ferrada masterfully describes years that pass in seconds, and moments that stretch into life-altering events. At once nostalgic, dangerous, and full of wonder, How to Order the Universe captures a vanishing way of life and a father-daughter relationship on the brink of irreversible change.