Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Orlean and Saunders join Folger reading series

Susan Orlean and George Saunders read from their works Monday as part of the PEN/Faulkner reading series at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C.

Orlean, a willowy redhead, read excerpts from three articles: "Shooting Party", which originally appeared in The New Yorker September 29, 1999 and was later collected in My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere; "The American Man, Age Ten", first published in Esquire; and "Devotion Road", another New Yorker piece. Both "The American Man, Age Ten" and "Devotion Road" were collected in The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People.

Saunders read his short story "Victory Lap", which was published in The New Yorker October 5 of last year.

Orlean’s writing is reminiscent of the 60s and early 70s when non-fiction articles by Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion and other practitioners of new journalism gave magazines such as Esquire, The New Yorker and Rolling Stone an immediacy and relevancy they are unlikely to ever enjoy again. Her articles are vibrantly written, sharply observed and laced with wry -- often self-deprecating -- humor.

There’s an easy explanation for why Orlean’s photograph appeared on the cover of both My Kind of Place and The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup – she makes intelligence sexy.

Saunders is the author of the essay collection The Braindead Megaphone, the short story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia and In Persuasion Nation and the novella The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. I’ve not read any of those works, but I have read – and loved -- his children's book The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip,

Saunders used a host of voices throughout his reading, which was like listening to an episode of The Simpsons. This guy needs to record his own audio books.

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