After collecting my favorite profiles for Bullfighter, I decided to gather the pieces I'd written in which "place" was the protagonist. These certainly aren't typical travel pieces -- you will find no hotel or restaurant suggestions, that's for sure -- but in each one, I felt the sense of where the story unfolded was almost as important as the story itself. In some cases (Midland, Texas, for instance) the place WAS the story.
"In My Kind of Place, the real Susan Orlean takes readers on a series of remarkable journeys in this uniquely witty, sophisticated, and far-flung travel book. In this irresistible collection of adventures far and near, Orlean conducts a tour of the world via its subcultures, from the heart of the African music scene in Paris to the World Taxidermy Championships in Springfield, Illinois-and even into her own apartment, where she imagines a very famous houseguest taking advantage of her hospitality.
"With Orlean as guide, lucky readers partake in all manner of armchair activity. They will climb Mt. Fuji and experience a hike most intrepid Japanese have never attempted; play ball with Cuba's Little Leaguers, promising young athletes born in a country where baseball and politics are inextricably intertwined; trawl Icelandic waters with Keiko, everyone's favorite whale as he tries to make it on his own; stay awhile in Midland, Texas, hometown of George W. Bush, a place where oil time is the only time that matters; explore the halls of a New York City school so troubled it's known as "Horror High"; and stalk caged tigers in Jackson, New Jersey, a suburban town with one of the highest concentrations of tigers per square mile anywhere in the world.
"Vivid, humorous, unconventional, and incomparably entertaining, Susan Orlean's writings for The New Yorker have delighted readers for over a decade. My Kind of Place is an inimitable treat by one of America's premier literary journalists."
"...in this enormously pleasurable gathering of canny, vivid travel pieces and sprightly essays, Orlean proves herself to be an incisive chronicler of places as varied as Midland, Texas; New York City's immense and struggling Martin Luther King Jr. High School; and beautiful, hard-to-reach Bhutan. Besides her clever descriptions and charming candor, the most salient feature of Orlean's travel writing is her enthusiasm."Publishers Weekly
"Orlean (The Orchid Thief) hasn't so much been everywhere as she's been everywhere no one else has thought to go...and insightful collection by an exceptional essayist."