At the 2012 Sigma Tau Delta International Convention, Anthony Doerr began his talk by sharing a short work of prose he had just composed on the plane ride to New Orleans. With an easy wit and endearing charm, Doerr crafted a caricature of his younger self, piecing together a Halloween costume with duct tape, cardboard, and black magic marker. Marking every peculiar nuance, Doerr translated emotive images of a young boy standing alone at a party, separated from the other kids by his faded, rain-soaked homemade costume. While the life lesson confused him at the time, the gift of a “Most Original Costume” prize from a friend’s mother planted the freedom-seed of individual expression within his heart.
That free expression found its voice through the creative process of short-story writing. Doerr also read a short story originally titled “Oranges.” Beginning with a meet-cute on a plane, he followed a singular stranded orange peel through the couple’s adventures of love, loss, and little personal idiosyncrasies that formed their life together. Doerr covered bone with flesh with the subtle inflections in his voice, sharing the couple’s interior reflections of one another while whispering the secret of the oranges.
Doerr delivered his talk with a gracious tone, repeatedly remarking “thanks for clapping” with a genuine gratitude that revealed his sheer pleasure in his life’s work. Through his readings, he continually echoed the sentiments of his childhood self, remaining true to his own originality. Anthony Doerr’s unique voice and ability to translate the small details in our everyday world will surely leave a lasting impression on attendees, affirming the free expression of individual art.