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Susan Orlean

About me

What can I tell you? I am the product of a happy and relatively uneventful childhood in Cleveland, Ohio (back when the Indians were still a lousy team, and before they became a really good team and then again became a somewhat lousy team, although I have hope again...) This was followed by a happy and relatively squandered college career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (back when Ann Arbor hosted a Hash Bash every spring). I studied literature and history and always dreamed of being a writer, but had no idea of how you went about being a writer - or at least the kind of writer I wanted to be: someone who wrote long stories about interesting things, rather than news stories about short-lived events. There is no guidebook to becoming that kind of writer, so I assumed I'd end up doing something practical like going to law school, much as the thought of it made me cringe. After college, I moved to Portland, Oregon (back when Portland was cappucino-free) to kill some time before the inevitable trek to law school - and amazingly enough I lucked into a writing job at a tiny now-defunct monthly magazine. That led to a job at an alternative newsweekly in Portland where I wrote music reviews and feature pieces. While I was in Portland, Mt. St. Helens erupted; I started writing for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice; I learned to cross-country ski; I failed to learn how to cook.


Yes, he is the most handsome dog in the world. His name is Cooper and he's a three year old Welsh Springer Spaniel. I got him from a breeder near Port Chester, New York - check out her website at welshspringers.com and be forewarned that she has very annoying music playing in the background. Still, she breeds a heck of a dog. Cooper is now about forty-nine pounds; enjoys swimming, eating plastic, sitting on top of the newspaper when I'm reading it, and chicken.

I moved to Boston in 1982 (back before they built the Ted Williams Tunnel and long before the Red Sox reversed the curse). I wrote for the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Globe, and started work on my first book Saturday Night. Four years later I moved to New York. After moving to New York, I learned how to snowboard; wrote The Orchid Thief; became a staff writer at The New Yorker; got married; got a Welsh Springer Spaniel; learned how to order take-out food. These days I do some lecturing and some teaching, but most of the time I'm writing pieces for The New Yorker and occasionally for other magazines, and working on books. My latest project, a biography of dog actor Rin Tin Tin, which will be out in October 2011 and will be published by Simon and Schuster. Right now, I'm living in Columbia County, New York (with occasional stints in Los Angeles and in New York City) with my husband, my son, my dog, and two chickens.