Daniel Orozco, "Announcements"


It's December 10. Daniel Orozco, author of Orientation and Other Stories, clinks his glass to get your attention.

How would you describe your story?

DANIEL OROZCO: Seven love stories! In only seven pages!

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

DO: I wrote it about four years ago, at the request of an editor who wanted a seasonal story, so I decided on Wedding Season, which wasn’t what the editor had in mind. “Announcements” is a series of episodes of romantic encounter, so I just started writing several of them, one after the other. I assembled them, revised them, deleted some, expanded and compressed others, and re-ordered them to find some sort of dramatic arc, such that the ending of the last episode in the story not only brings closure to the episode but to the entire sequence of episodes that comprise the story. This is pretty typical of my writing process in general—tackling some narrative problem, and (hopefully) solving it so the story (hopefully) works.

What kind of research went into this story?

DO: I’ve always been morbidly fascinated with the stories in the Weddings section of The New York Times. They’re called “Vows”—nimble little dramas about couples falling facilely in love, and exemplifying a kind of Matrimonial Reportage whose “Five W’s” formula goes: Who What When Where Wedding Bells! So I sat down and read dozens and dozens of them, and applied the formula to my own couples, falling facilely and not so facilely in love.

What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing can't?

DO: I think the short story is special mainly because it’s short. The short story can do what any other dramatic prose form can do, but must do it in a briefer span—with fewer words, more precise details and imagery, tighter plotting, and a rigorously narrowing high-beam focus on a character in crisis. This unrelenting compression and distillation makes the short story hard to write, but thrilling to read. A great short story can leave you jangly and wired. If the novel is a pot of coffee, the short story is a double espresso.

Where should people go to learn more about you and your work?

DO: Well, I’ve been off the radar mostly, working on a novel. But if you google my name, in quotation marks, you will find several interviews I’ve done, the most recent in 2014.

What's the best gift you've ever been given?

DO: It’s a giant brass fly, whose folded wings flip open on a hinge to reveal an ashtray in its abdomen. It’s the ugliest and most needless thing I own, given to me a couple of decades ago by a good friend who prided himself on gifting ugly and needless things. Whenever I look at it, the memories of a particularly turbulent but fruitful phase of my life come back vivid and sharp.

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Michael Hingston