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Hello, Login. Visit Our Stores. Sometimes that discomfort comes from having your worldview tested Acclaimed New Yorker writer Susan Orlean brings her wry sensibility, exuberant voice, and peculiar curiosities to a fascinating range of subjects—from the well known Bill Blass to the unknown a typical ten-year-old boy to the formerly known the s girl group the Shaggs.

Like a magician producing rabbits and silk scarves onstage, Orlean presents her subjects effortlessly and without ornamentation while she recedes into the background. This makes for crisp, elegant writing While at times Orlean's subjects are splendidly odd and often frightening or even off-putting, they're also presented with immense affection, respect, and focus. They reintroduce readers to a sense of possibility and help us see the world again. 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.

She knows how to be present without being intrusive, how to share impressions rather than offer analysis, and how to let her subjects reveal themselves She is a kind of latter-day Tocqueville. Most are completely unknown, or were before she wrote about them in these 20 essays and profiles 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.

Some essays I highly enjoyed, others were meh I guess that's the problem with a book of essays - how uneven your enjoyment of them can be.


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I adore her writing style so the collection has that going for it. Some of the people profiled in this book I just had zero interest in, no matter how well written the material was. Definitely not a book to buy, but one to ch Some essays I highly enjoyed, others were meh Definitely not a book to buy, but one to check out from the library. Sep 24, Lisa Mcbroom rated it really liked it Shelves: hooray-for-hollywood , michele-s-book-club , nyc , everything-pop-culture.

Susan Orlean former writer of the New Yorker and Esquire profiles the unusual people she has met over the years.

From celebrities to a female bullfighter, a well written book! Sep 02, Matt rated it liked it Shelves: reviewed. Her piece on famously awful girl group The Shaggs is one of my all time faves, a beautifully observed look at misplaced hopes and dreams. For the most part, the articles are fun and interesting and not too terribly dated. Still, there are a few precious gems here.

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I also enjoyed her profiles of a young woman who works as the sole reporter at a small town newspaper, another woman who runs a store that only sells buttons, and Hollywood superagent Sue Mengers. Dec 31, Jade Wheeler rated it really liked it. I enjoy Orlean's writing but not quite as much as her very underrated genre. This is a book of character studies! Yeah, character studies. Some of them are about semi-famous or famous people, some of them are about people who would become famous in later years, and some of them are about an average 10 year old boy or other average types.

As one can expect, some chapters are more interesting than others and, I suspect, which ones the reader finds more interesting greatly varies based on who the I enjoy Orlean's writing but not quite as much as her very underrated genre. As one can expect, some chapters are more interesting than others and, I suspect, which ones the reader finds more interesting greatly varies based on who the reader is more so than who the subject is.

But it's well worth a read. What I like particularly about Orlean's style is that she does not try to find analyze her studies or read anything into them. She is an observer simply marking down what she sees and her personal opinions on them. It is like a social scientist notes and journal rolled into one.

THE BULLFIGHTER CHECKS HER MAKEUP by Susan Orlean | Kirkus Reviews

Mar 21, Bea Elwood rated it it was ok Shelves: reshelved. I know when this book was published was only eleven years ago but the stories felt really aged while I was reading them. And it wasn't just the references to beepers and Mark Wahlberg as Marky Mark but it was also wondering whatever became of the star Dominican high school basketball player destined for the NBA and the female matador after her first season in Spain.

Like the magazines these stories were originally published in this book left a feeling of dustiness and staleness not unlike r I know when this book was published was only eleven years ago but the stories felt really aged while I was reading them. Dec 03, Chris rated it it was ok. Basically, the rule here is, if the first word of the essay is "if," it will be really good.

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Two and a half stars, really. It's terrific, but nothing in th Basically, the rule here is, if the first word of the essay is "if," it will be really good. It's terrific, but nothing in this book matches it. And the cover, yikes. Jul 08, Nora rated it liked it. I mean, if you put a picture of yourself dressed as a bullfighter on the cover of your book, you pretty much have to bring it.

Most of these profiles were ok but a lot of the time when I finished one, I would feel like I mean I guess I would recommend this one for early 90s nostalgia purposes if nothing else. Also it's kind of weird and like, wistful reading at times because a lot o I wanted to read something by Susan Orlean and I kind of wish I had picked The Orchid Thief instead.

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Also it's kind of weird and like, wistful reading at times because a lot of these people who were apparently the "next big thing" in like I have never heard of. Sep 04, Sarah rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction. These are fascinating, beautifully observed portraits, but they feel like they came out of a time capsule, read so long after the fact. The choices of subjects are all of their time. Their priorities, their clothing, the excitement around some of them, long past. A look at teenage Tiffany just as she broke out of mall concerts and into the Top 40, for example. Loved the bullfighter and the surfer girls of Maui and the Shaggs.

I've read this a little at a time over the last year. Dec 22, Mary Havens rated it liked it. Like all short stories, some were great and some were just o. More great than o. Jul 20, Mary Beth rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , essays. Orlean gives every profile she writes a strikingly stylized sense of detail. Some of the subject matter of Bullfighter might be a bit dated most of the pieces were first published in the s, and it shows , but her irresistible hooks, sharp eye and refined ear, and warmly humane perspective create such vivid portraits that many pieces transcend their publication date with grace.

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Jul 02, Sarah Burns rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , feel-good-books , non-fiction. First of all, let me say that I adore people, so this was a fantastic book. The writing style was wonderful, and I found the people that Orlean wrote about worthy of my people watching facination. Longer review after I get this gauze off of my fingers Susan Orleans has an uncanny ability to make anything interesting.

The only all button store in the US? A man who does the window displays in a fish market? The gospel singers, the surfer girls, the only reporter for the newspaper of a small town in upstate New York, an upscale Manhattan realtor. Check, check and recheck. Then there are the really memorable stories — the Ashanti king of America, the last meetings of the Tonya Harding fan club and the story of the unique a Susan Orleans has an uncanny ability to make anything interesting.

Then there are the really memorable stories — the Ashanti king of America, the last meetings of the Tonya Harding fan club and the story of the unique and mostly unknown girl group the Shaggs.

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Jun 03, alsmilesalot rated it really liked it. What a gift of a perspective! Mar 26, Ellen rated it liked it. I read this book of short profiles of not-so-ordinary people because my older son had to read it for his English class, and he really enjoyed it. I thought the writing was great.


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I didn't read all the profiles, but may come back to it. Nov 23, Sarah Rigg rated it liked it.

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There are some famous people in the collection for instance, designer Bill Blass but the stories about the non-famous people are just as intriguing, if not more so. Nov 15, Ellen rated it liked it Shelves: started-but-never-finished. Susan orlean is a fantastic writer and these profiles demonstrated her prodigious talent Mar 15, Ramon rated it really liked it.

As usual, the writing is superb, Orlean can make anything or anyone interesting, find the humanity in most any subject, and the articles feel timeless. Basically she can do no wrong. Apr 18, Tammy T rated it did not like it Shelves: didn-t-finish. This was a didn't finish for me. I found the style of her writing repetitive and a bit on the dull side. The subjects were semi-interesting, but maybe it was the age of the book that made it a yawn.

Jan 01, Leah Mensch rated it liked it. Giving it one less star than it deserves because every essay in this work was better than American Man. Sep 24, Nina rated it liked it. Interesting take on ordinary people and what makes a person a human being. Aug 11, Reynolds Darke rated it really liked it. A very good collection of magazine feature articles about people, from the author of the bestseller "The Library Book. Sep 03, Alison Tripp rated it liked it Shelves: Really 3.

Mar 17, Elizabeth Sims rated it it was amazing Shelves: essay , popular-culture.

Worth it for 'Meet the Shaggs' alone. Mar 07, Tabitha Blankenbiller rated it liked it. Her descriptions are poignant and colorful; she is sparing with her words, but chooses unique combinations that paint a perfect picture. There is so much to learn and admire about her piquantly observant style. But she is largely absent from the subject and arc of each story, allowing each profiled individual to shine or sputter on their own. This is a much more fact-based, journalistic approach than what I typically take with my writing.

Her work, of course, is told slant—she chooses the subjects, the quotes, the descriptions for a purpose. Some, like A Gentle Reign, are extremely complimentary. Kwabena Uppong, a surrogate African king in the states, is colored in admiring brushstrokes that create a deity out of a cab driver. Others, such as Tiffany, allow less-flattering actions and words to speak for themselves. Still, she seems to stay loyal to her subjects. I can imagine someone like Rose Tarlow taking pride in the meticulous detail-Nazi Orlean draws her as.

In the introduction we learn that this particular essay, The American Man, Age Ten, was originally supposed to be a biographical sketch of child actor McCauley Culkin. The result is a time capsule of late-eighties culture and philosophy, a kid on the brink of the internet, globalism and terrorism. After this story, however, I feel the collection starts to stall. With such short stories, I felt like my enjoyment and involvement in the stories was under some cruel word limit by The New Yorker. The story was over before I could even get close.

I found myself Wikipedia-ing half of these people, just to find out if the wonderkid ever played basketball for the NBA, or what a Bill Blass dress looks like. I wish I felt more fulfilled from the admittedly excellent, but very brief writing. My favorite story came toward the end of the collection with Figures in a Mall. Orlean took me on a surprise trip 20 miles down the road to Clackamas Town Center mall, the home of many memorable trips during- and post-living with my family. This is exactly what I hope to do with my story, Southbound.