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Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean is the best-selling author of eight books, including The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup (Random House, 2001), My Kind of Place (Random House, 2004), Saturday Night (Knopf, 1990), Lazy Little Loafers (Harry N. Abrams, 2008), The Orchid Thief (Random House, 1998), and Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (Simon and Schuster, 2011), which was a New York Times Notable book. Orlean has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1992. Her work has also been published in Esquire, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. In 2014, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts/Nonfiction. In 2016, she was selected as a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. 


Photography by Maisie Crow

Susan Orlean’s Notes to Self

Fall 2016 | Articles

A library, of course, makes for a stubborn protagonist in a work of narrative journalism. “The reality is, it’s just different writing about something that has all of the complexity of bureaucracy. I don’t do a lot of stories where I have to go through channels to get the material I want, and I’m not somebody who knows how to game a system to get access to stuff.” Doggedness helped, both in chasing leads and, later, arranging them—fittingly, with one of the indispensible tools of the librarian’s trade.