The New Yorker

The Turnaround: Susan Orlean

The Turnaround
Susan Orlean

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Susan Orlean has been a journalist for over 30 years, writing for publications like The Rolling Stone and Vogue. In 1992 she was made a staff writer at The New Yorker and has been contributing ever since. She has also written eight books. One of them, The Orchid Thief, was the basis of Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman's 2002 film starring Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep.

Susan talks to Jesse about how some of her best pieces start as one thing and end up as another, especially once she begins talking to living, breathing human beings. She did just that in her 1994 piece about disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, which she wrote by talking to locals in Harding's hometown of Clackamas, Oregon. She also shares about her experiences interviewing celebrities, including the valuable lesson she learned when profiling Tom Hanks for Rolling Stone.

Visit Susan Orlean's website to learn more about her work, including the many articles and books she's written.

The Turnaround is a production of Maximum Fun in partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review. Visit their website to learn more about their "mission to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society," and to read edited transcripts of our other Turnaround episodes.

Hosted and created by Jesse Thorn
Produced by Kara Hart and Nick Liao
Senior Producer: Laura Swisher
Managing Director: Bikram Chatterji

Music for The Turnaround provided by Mobius Van ChocStraw.

Special thanks to Kyle Pope and his team at CJR, Darrel Frost, and Emilie Erskine.

Rin Tin Tin with Susan Orlean: Interview on The Sound of Young America

Susan Orlean

Bestselling nonfiction author and The New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean talks to us about the fascinating life of the iconic screen star, Rin Tin Tin.

Rin Tin Tin went from being an abandoned puppy in a bombed-out dog kennel to being one of the best-recognized and best-loved dogs in recent history. His owner Lee Duncan devoted his life to showing the world the fantastic stunts his dog could do, including jumping 12-foot fences and climbing trees. Rin Tin Tin became "The Wonder Dog" and a star of the silver (and later, television) screen.

Susan's new book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, is not merely a biography of the dogs that took on the mantle of Rin Tin Tin, but an exploration of what our relationships with dogs have to come mean in the past hundred years.

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