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The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup
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About the Author

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. Her articles have also appeared in Outside, Rolling Stone, Vogue, and Esquire. She is the author of Saturday Night, a New York Times Notable Book of 1990, which, in the words of Entertainment Weekly, "calls to mind Damon Runyon, Evelyn Waugh, and screwball comedy." She lives in New York City.

Reviews

In the introduction to this collection of profiles she wrote for The New Yorker, Orlean (The Orchid Thief) tells the reader that she's always wanted to be a writer because she "wanted to write about things that intrigued me, and to write about them in a way that would surprise readers who might not have expected to find these things intriguing." Her stint as a staff writer for The New Yorker, which began in 1992, has provided her with many opportunities to indulge herself. The subjects she profiles include Bill Blass, the Shaggs (a Sixties girl group), Silly Billy (the most sought-after entertainer for children's birthday parties in New York), an African king who drives a taxi, and the first woman matador in Spain. The results are eclectic, engaging, and satisfying. Given the popularity of The Orchid Thief and a planned seven-city author tour, this book should be in demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/00.]DPam Kingsbury, Alabama Humanities Fdn., Florence Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

One of the New Yorker's most distinctive stylists, Orlean (The Orchid Thief) has a knack for capturing "something extraordinary in [the] ordinariness" of her subjects. Most are completely unknown, or were before she wrote about them in these 20 essays and profiles. Sure, there's a piece on designer Bill Blass and another on figure skater Tanya Harding, but Orlean clearly prefers to write about lesser known people like Felipe Lopez, New York's first Dominican high school basketball phenom, or Kwabena Oppong, a New York taxicab driver who also happens to be the king of the Ashanti living in the United States. (He attends to his Ghanaian subjectsDsettling disputes, presiding over ceremoniesDaround his cab-driving schedule.) Disarming but disciplined, Orlean's style is unobtrusively first person, with deft leads: "If I were a bitch, I'd be in love with Biff Truesdale," she writes, opening a story on a prize show dog. While some stories obviously evolve from her lifeDa profile of a smalltown news reporter who inevitably knows everyone, a hairdresser who is a "perfect master of ceremonies"Din others, she ventures far afield: the cult-fave 1960s sister rock band, the Shaggs; teenage Hawaiian surfer girls with offhand fearlessness; a female Spanish matador. (Jan. 26) Forecast: Collections are rarely easy sells, but most of these pieces are gems, and Orleans has become such a staple of the New Yorker that her name together with the stylish jacket image of a woman in bullfighting garb may be a red cape for the magazine's many subscribers. 8-city author tour. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Orlean's snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose...is fast becoming one of our national treasures."
--The Washington Post Book World

"Susan Orlean is a master of the quick sketch....She writes arresting, short pieces, serendipitous material that readers stumble across by chance, then read on, transfixed by the casual grace and beauty of these miniatures."
--San Francisco Chronicle "Through the power of energetic reporting and sharp writing, the national character is precisely what Orlean captures. She is a kind of latter-day Tocqueville."
--The New York Times Book Review "Reading Bullfighter will leave you convinced that the world is much wider and stranger than you had thought and that the most ordinary-seeming people are often the most remarkable."
--Us Weekly

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