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I just had the first piece come out since the book came out. This week. Of course, ultimately about people but that are more structured around a place. RB: In this collection there were two pieces that really had an emotional impact on me.

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The Hawaiian surf girls piece and the Tanya Harding. Both were melancholy and bleak. Is there another benchmark besides subject matter when you select…do you look at the stories for emotional tone? SO: Yeah.

The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean at InkWell Management Literary Agency

When I laid them out to try to figure out the shape of the book…to me it was orchestral. I do think the tone…there is a very distinct emotional tone. Some pieces are purely funny…I put them beside each other with that in mind, definitely. A lot of them are stories of impending loss. So I definitely wanted to have it shaped emotionally. And I wanted to end with a piece that was complicated, both strange and funny. Yes definitely. I also think as you do it more there are certain bad habits that get more and more ingrained. But I have more confidence.

I trust my perceptions and my instincts more.

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RB: I am not asking so much about your writing skills as your story choices. I hear an idea. And then I get very estranged from the idea. I do it every time. I think I get more worried when I choose stories than I ever used to. SO: Oh, absolutely.

The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters With Extraordinary People

On one hand it gets you all excited. I get performance block. SO: Yeah, we do now. The atmosphere of The New Yorker changed and we began having deadlines. At first it was a deadline we chose. Then it was not a deadline we chose.

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Usually they are pretty generous deadlines. SO: Oh yeah. I have a one-track mind. Putting the reporting aside. Reporting on another piece. Coming back to that one. I just feel like I lose the connection. These were, all of them, done one at a time. RB: You work in the world of facts and journalism. Do you have any thoughts about writing fiction? SO: I read fiction. I think that I used to think that I would write fiction. And I like the mental puzzle involved with dealing with a real situation rather than one that you can just arbitrarily choose to change.


And frankly I like the social mission of writing non-fiction. I think it is different writing non-fiction pieces, and they are perceived very differently because people know this is real and someone took the time to find out about that kind of person. I love what I do. I read it a hundred times more than I read non-fiction. SO: There was the piece about the small-time newspaper reporter. I think I would be a little intimidated.

Partly because it seems like a very interior process and it would be intimidating to me to write about someone where what they were doing was so much an internal thing. Do you want to be a great writer? SO: Oh definitely.

Please enable JavaScript before proceeding:. Internet Explorer. Available for download. Not available in stores. The bestselling author of The Orchid Thief is back — and she's brought some friends — in this wonderfully entertaining collection of the acclaimed New Yorker writer's best and brightest profiles. Meet more than thirty-five of Susan Orlean's favorite people — from the well known Bill Blass and Tonya Harding to the unknown a typical ten-year-old boy to the formerly known the s girl group the Shaggs.

Passionate people. Famous people. Short people. Young people. And one championship show dog named Biff, who from a certain angle looks a lot like President Clinton. Orlean transports us into the lives of some rather eccentric individuals, like the man who has spent thirty years selling nothing but ceiling fans; or Bob Silverstein, maker of the Big Chair — the creme de la creme of oversized chairs used for novelty photographs at carnivals. Others are living highly unusual lives, like Cristina Sanchez, the eponymous bullfighter, the first woman to become a matador in Spain; or the African king who drives a taxi in New York City and keeps his throne in his living room.

Whether describing the sun-drenched existence of a Maui surfer girl or the devoted life of the Jackson Southernaires — a traveling gospel group — Orlean writes with such insight and candor that readers will feel as if they've met each and every one of these unconventional folks. Probably more so for the author's fellow New Yorkers, and more so at the times each essay was contemporary.

Now it's dated most by over 3 decades, no cell phones and only a couple of car I gave this 4 stars because: In on story she used "and" rather than commas, which was completely annoying and I didn't like all of her stories. I especially liked the stories on the Southern Gospel