The New New Journalism
Robert S. Boynton
Ted Conover
Richard Ben Cramer
Leon Dash
William Finnegan
Jonathan Harr
Alex Kotlowitz
Jon Krakauer
Jane Kramer
William Langewiesche
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Michael Lewis
Susan Orlean
Richard Preston
Ron Rosenbaum
Eric Schlosser
Gay Talese
Calvin Trillin
Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Wright
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by Robert S. Boynton

           New Yorker writer Susan Orlean is known for her quirky stories about "ordinary" people who are not normally in the public eye or consciousness, but in whose very ordinariness Orlean finds something extraordinary. These include a profile of a ten-year-old boy, a woman in suburban New Jersey who keeps tigers, and a New York taxi driver who also happens to be the king of the Ashanti. "An ordinary life examined closely reveals itself to be exquisite and exceptional, somehow managing to be both heroic and plain," she writes in the introduction to The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People (2001). "I really believed that anything at all was worth writing about if you cared about it enough, and that the best and only necessary justification for writing any particular story was that I cared about it. The challenge was to write these stories in a way that got other people as interested in them as I was."
           Susan Orlean was born on October 31, 1955, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father was a real estate developer and her mother worked in a bank. Orlean studied literature and history at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where she wrote poetry.
           Orlean got hooked on nonfiction when, as a young girl, she began reading "slice of life" stories about what it was like to be a country doctor or policeman in Life magazine. "There was this notion in Life that subjects like these were genuine 'stories.' The idea of writing about something real was enormously appealing to me," she says.
           After college, Orlean moved to Portland, Oregon, where she worked for Paper Rose, later, WillametteWeek, where she wrote music reviews and features.
           In 1982, she moved to Boston to write for The Boston Phoenix and The Boston Globe. Her first book, Red Sox and Bluefish: And Other Things that Make New England New England (1987), collects her pieces from the Globe. She also started writing Saturday Night (1990), a book that chronicles how people across the United States spend Saturday evenings.
           Orlean moved to New York in 1986, where she wrote for Rolling Stone and Vogue. Soon after she arrived, she heard that The New Yorker was looking for writers for the "Talk of the Town" section. Orlean became a staff writer in 1992.
           In 1994, she read a newspaper article on the theft by a man named Lohn Laroche of two hundred rare orchids from the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park in Florida. Orlean interviewed Laroche after sitting through his trial, and the result was "Orchid Fever," which Orlean expanded into The Orchid Thief (1998).
           Orlean and her husband, John Gillespie, an investment banker, live in New York and Boston. They have a red-and-white Welsh springer spaniel named Cooper, with whom Orlean wrote Throw Me a Bone: 50 Healthy, Canine Taste-Tested Recipes for Snacks, Meals, and Treats (2003). Her second collection, My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere was published in 2004. She is currently writing a biography of Rin Tin Tin.


On Animals, Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, 2021
The Library Book, Simon & Schuster, 2018
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, Simon & Schuster, 2011
Animalish, Kindle Single, 2011
My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere, Random House, 2004
The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People, Random House, 2001
The Orchid Thief, Random House, 1998
Saturday Night, Knopf, 1990
Red Sox and Bluefish: And Other Things That Make New England New England, Faber & Faber, 1987


Unless otherwise noted, all articles appeared in The New Yorker

"All the Tools You Will Ever Need To Become a Writer", Medium, October 13, 2020

"The Rabbit Outbreak: A highly contagious, often lethal animal virus arrives in the United States.", The New Yorker, July 6 & 13, 2020

"Zooming In On Petra", Smithsonian, October 2018

"What Makes the “Lion Whisperer” Roar?", Smithsonian, June 2015

" Popular Chronicles: Man and Machine", The New Yorker, February 10, 2014

"Get Up Close and Personal with Bao Bao in Amazing New Photos", Smithsonian, January 2014

" American Chronicles: The Walking Alive", The New Yorker, May 20, 2013

"Onward and Upwards With the Arts: Walart", The New Yorker, February 11 & 18, 2013

"Semper Fido", This American Life, November 30, 2012

"Why German Shepherds Have Had Their Day", The New York Times, October 9, 2011

"The World of Fashion: Jean Paul Gaultier’s Inspirations", The New Yorker, September 26, 2011

"The Dog Star", The New Yorker, August 29, 2011

"Excerpt from Susan Orlean's Biography of Rin Tin Tin", The Drum: A Literary Magazine for Your Ears, March 2011

"The Softest of Landings", Afar, May/June 2010

"Popular Chronicles: Rising High", The New Yorker, February 15 & 22, 2010

"The It Bird", The New Yorker, September 28, 2009

"Morocco’s Extraordinary Donkeys", Smithsonian, September 2009

"Voracious Love Affair and Battle With Pleasures and Snares of Food", The New York Times, August 25, 2009

"Annals of Invention: Thinking in the Rain", February 11 & 18, 2008

"The Origami Lab: Why a physicist dropped everything for paper folding", February 19, 2007

"The Sporting Scene: Little Wing", February 13 & 20, 2006

"Annals of Detection: Lost Dog", February 14, 2005

"Letter from South Boston: The Outsiders", July 26, 2004

"Out of the Woods", June 14, 2004

"Popular Chronicles: Animal Action—The movie-star treatment for nonhumans", November 17, 2003

"Popular Chronicles: Lifelike—What it takes to be a great taxidermist", June 9, 2003

"Shouts & Murmurs: Nice Doggy", February 17 & 24, 2003

"Popular Chronicles: Party Line", December 16, 2002

"Popular Culture: The Congo Sounds", October 14 & 21, 2002

"Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Where’s Willy—Everybody’s favorite whale tries to make it on his own", September 23, 2002

"Letter from Cuba: Rough Diamonds—Fidel’s little Leagues", August 5, 2002

"Shouts & Murmurs: Tainted Love", July 15, 2002

"Popular Chronicles: The Lady and the Tigers—Is New Jersey any place to keep a pack of wild tigers?", February 18 & 25, 2002

"Shadow Memory", For Flowers in Shadow, Rizzoli. Jan. 1, 2002

"Popular Chronicles: Art for Everybody—How Thomas Kinkade turned painting into big business", October 15, 2001

"Department of Decoration: The Illustrating Man—How the fight to legalize tattooing in Massachusetts was won", July 2, 2001

"Department of Motor Vehicles: Fast Woman—A test driver, mechanic, and speed demon becomes the doyenne of auto journalism", February 19 & 26, 2001

"Letter from Texas: A Place Called Midland—George W. Bush’s home town isn’t what you think it is", October 16 & 23, 2000

"Letter from Sydney: Game Plan—Australians go for the gold in Olympic bashing", September 18, 2000

"The Sporting Life: Skeet Shooting", August 21 & 28, 2000

"Springtime Fashion", March 30, 2000

"Our Local Correspondents: Madame President—What it takes to run a student government at a high school with troubles", February 21 & 28, 2000

"Letter from Bangkok: A Place To Disappear—Why so many people wind up on the Khao San Road", January 17, 2000

"Shooting Party", September 29, 1999

"Popular Chronicles: Meet the Shaggs—Three girls from New Hampshire who became one of music’s strangest legends", September 27, 1999

"Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Fertile Ground—Everyone in Bhutan knows that a monk’s blessing can help a woman conceive. What will happen to this remote kingdom when Western women know it too?", June 7, 1999

"Annals of Real Estate: I Want This Apartment—Scenes from a broker’s life", February 22 & March 1, 1999

"Popular Chronicles: Plant Crimes—The strange things people will do for the orchids they love", November 30, 1998

"American Summer: 1971—Pool Buddy", June 22 & 29, 1998

"Popular Chronicles: Girl Power—Has Sabrina the Teenage Witch worked her magic on a generation?,”", May 18, 1998

"Tiffany", Rolling Stone, April 21, 1998

"The Maui Surfer Girls", Women Outside, 1998

"Popular Chronicles: Beautiful Girls—JonBenet’s murder made for sensational headlines, but the small-town world of children’s beauty pageants is as American as mom and apple pie", August 4, 1997

"La Matadora Revisa Su Maquillaje (The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup)", Outside, December 1996

"Shouts & Murmurs: Shiftless Little Loafers", July 22, 1996

"Popular Chronicles: The Homesick Restaurant—What’s the difference between the Centro Vasco in Havana and the one in Miami? Thirty-three years of dreaming", January 15, 1996

"The Talk of the Town: Susan Orlean shadows holiday gift buyers in the midst of frantic deliberation", December 18, 1995

"Portfolio by Dominique Nabokov: Living Rooms", October 16, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: Hot and Cool—It used to be that the season dictated the look. But thanks to global warming, or something, it seems as though there aren’t any real seasons left—so now what?", October 2, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: Her Town—Since Heather Heaton came to Millerton, it’s been a one-woman story", September 11, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: The Big Picture—Can Julian Schnabel make a movie?", July 24, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: We Just Up and Left—Who lives in trailer parks today?", June 12, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: Short Cuts—The hairdresser as confidante is a well-known phenomenon, but New York’s Robert Stuart has made his salon a salon where everyone joins the debate", May 1, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: Devotion Road—What is it like to sing for Jesus in America today?", April 17, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: Show Dog—It’s not easy being a professional boxer. Biff Truesdale, who will be defending his titles at the Westminster Show, just makes it look that way", February 20 & 27, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: Super-Duper—Getting to the Super Bowl is one thing, but making it through Super Bowl week in Miami requires a game plan all of its own", February 13, 1995

"Popular Chronicles: Orchid Fever—How seductive are orchids? Connoisseurs spare nothing for a rare bloom—the issue in a battle between Florida, the Seminoles, and a man with a passion", January 23, 1995

"The Talk of the Town: Fashion designers uptown and downtown get ready for this week’s shows in Bryant Park", November 7, 1994

"The Sporting Scene: The Three Sisters—No Bulgarians ever made it into world-class tennis, and no trio of siblings ever rose so far through its ranks until the amazing Maleevas", July 25, 1994

"Popular Chronicles: This is Perfect—Tastemaker of the moment Rose Tarlow dictates the way Hollywood moguls of the moment should live, and won’t stop until the place is perfect", April 18, 1994

"Annals of Showtown: After the Party—Sue Mengers used to be one of the most formidable agents in Hollywood. Then the business changed, but she didn’t", March 21, 1994

"Popular Chronicles: Figures in a Mall—People who say that Tonya Harding lives in Portland have missed the point. She comes from a place that is tougher and more intractable", February 21, 1994

"Popular Chronicles: Seriously Silly—It isn’t easy being top clown, especially if, like Silly Billy, you run your own empire and play to the toughest of audiences: New York tots", January 31, 1994

"Popular Chronicles: King of the Road—Forget Seventh Avenue. The secret of Bill Blass’s fame is that he’s still the hardest worker on the trunk-show circuit", December 20, 1993

"Popular Chronicles: The Master of the Mix—Kool DJ Red Alert doesn’t talk much and plays only what he likes, and—after ten years on the air—he’s a hip-hop legend", November 15, 1993

"The Talk of the Town: Home Wrecker", August 23 & 30, 1993

"The Talk of the Town: Intensive Care", June 28, 1993

"Profiles: Shoot the Moon", (Felipe Lopez), March 22, 1993

"The American Man, Age Ten", Esquire, December 1992

"The Talk of the Town: Brief Encounter", November 2, 1992

"Our Local Correspondents: All Mixed Up", June 22, 1992

"Profiles: Living Large", June 17, 1991

"My Life: A Series of Privately Funded Performance-Art Pieces", December 31, 1990

"Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Old-Fashioned Girls", February 12, 1990

"Profiles: A Gentle Reign", (Kwabena Oppong), December 12, 1988

Interviews and Reviews

Susan Orlean on Rin Tin Tin and Her Own Menagerie, New York Times, September 14, 2011

Interview on Splendid Table, January 15, 2005

Interview on The Speakeasy with Dorian, December 13, 2004

Online Q&A with Claire Zulkey on, December 3, 2004

Interview on CBS’s Saturday Early Show, November 21, 2003

Interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, June 26, 2003

Jami Bernard, New York Daily News, November 25, 2002

Interview in Yale Literary Magazine, Spring 2002

Discussion on Readerville, February 25 – March 1, 2002

Conversation with Chris Colin,, February 26, 2001

Interview with Robert Birnbaum Identity Theory, 2001

Interview with, 2001

Interview at a Powell’s City of Books reading, 2001

Q&A with University of Oregon Literary Nonfiction Program, 2001

Online Discussion on’s The Breakfast Tabl, January 25, 1999

Review of The Orchid Thief, Eckhoff, Sally., January 13, 1999

Review of The Orchid Thief, Conover, Ted. “Flower Power.” The New York Times, January 3, 1999

Random House’s interview with Susan Orlean for The Orchid Thief’s, reader’s guide

© Robert S. Boynton