Rappahannock Review Prose Editors: “Saint Anthony in West Hollywood” is written in the second person, making us feel spoken to directly by Saint Anthony for much of the story. How did you choose that perspective?

D. A. Hosek: In the collection that this story is destined for, there’s a “secret” coding to the stories where some extra-textual information about the stories is given by whether the story is in first or third person. I won’t say more than that about the coding other than to say that this story falls outside the dichotomy underlying the coding, so it had to be in second-person. Once that choice was made, the rest of the story revealed itself in the only way it could.

RR: We’re intrigued by the way each paragraph of the story ends in a parenthetical revealing the main character’s inner thoughts. How did you land on that format?

DH: I got it the same place I get most of my great ideas; I shamelessly stole it. I liked how Genevieve Valentine used parentheses in her novel, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, and I saw an opportunity to make it my own in this piece.

RR: We’ve seen in your work stories which are about characters who are raised Catholic but make the decision to leave the Church later in life. How has Catholicism influenced your writing in terms of theme or process?

DH: Oh boy, this is a whole essay in itself. I wasn’t raised Catholic, but I grew up in a neighborhood where almost everybody was Catholic and I later became Catholic myself, largely under the literary influence of Graham Greene and to a lesser extent Evelyn Waugh. This has left me as a perpetual outsider with regard to Catholicism both before and after my conversion. There is very much a Catholic imagination behind my writing, even in my stories that don’t explicitly touch on religion, with a sense that there is a meaning behind everything and as Nick Ripatrazone puts it, a “longing for an absent God.”

RR: We’re interested in the themes of religious symbolism in your work and the relationships between religious figures and your characters. Have you modeled these interactions based on relationships you’ve seen within the Church?

DH: Catholics tend to have an almost pathological homophobia. And yet, there are still LGBTQ+ people who are called to be part of the church and those within the church who are called to welcome them. I’ve known people on all sides of the equation: those who are pulled towards the church, those who abandon it, those who welcome and those who shun. I’ve tried to capture some spark of this complex dynamic and its all too human cost in the space of a few thousand words. Hopefully, I’ve had some small success.

RR: The general idea of a monk or homeless person repeatedly coming by your house and essentially being a type of therapist is pretty bizarre on its own. What would your response to this situation be if it were to happen to you?

DH: The rational part of me would turn away Saint Anthony, but I’m not all rational. After all, what if he really is Saint Anthony?


D. A. Hosek’s work in Issue 8.2: 

“Saint Anthony in West Hollywood”