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Tag Archives: Susan Orlean

The Music of Narrative: Songs from great literary journalism

A story without sound lies too dead on the page. Imagine “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster,” by Jon Franklin, without the pop … pop … pop of the operating-room sensors. Or Tom Wolfe’s “The Girl of the Year” — the 1964 New York magazine classic on “it” girl Jane Holzer — without the manic rhythms: She is gorgeous [...]

It’s Mayborn Week at Storyboard!

Tomorrow through Friday we’ll feature exclusive outtakes from this month’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference at the University of North Texas. This year’s correspondents: veteran journalists Lee Hancock and Charlie Lewis, whose bios you’ll find below. (In case you missed it, last year’s conference included talks by Jeanne Marie Laskas and Thomas Lake on sportswriting and [...]

“What’s on your syllabus?”

Every narrative journalist can point to a story or a book, or two, that changed their lives, and that made them want to tell true stories. What story does it for you? Where was your love born? When we asked about influential writing via Twitter, answers came in a flurry. Wright Thompson said North Toward Home, [...]

“Why’s this so good?” No. 31: Susan Orlean maps obsession

Susan Orlean’s “Orchid Fever” first ran in The New Yorker on January 23, 1995. It had a second life as a book, and a third as a movie, in which adapting the latter from the former drives a screenwriter to madness, ruin and redemption. And no wonder: Orlean’s most famous article is, in fact, not [...]

“Why’s this so good?” No. 13: Gene Weingarten peels the Great Zucchini

The Great Zucchini has a secret. And in “The Peekaboo Paradox,” Gene Weingarten exhumes the history that haunts the most popular children’s entertainer in Washington, D.C. The story, which ran in January 2006, is the best thing ever written by the Washington Post’s two-time Pulitzer winner. (Surprisingly enough, Weingarten agrees with this statement.) “A children’s [...]

Life in the cave: highlights from Boston University’s “The Rebirth of Storytelling” conference

What does it take to make a great story? Boston University’s “The Power of Narrative” conference, held on campus April 29-30, aimed to offer some insights. The event included the kind of writing techniques and “show don’t tell” advice you’d expect (and hope for) at such a gathering. But beyond hearing about the mechanics of narrative [...]

Boston University announces 2011 narrative conference roster

More conference news for long-form addicts: Boston University has announced the roster for “The Power of Narrative” conference taking place on campus April 29 & 30 of this year. The list of speakers includes some fabulous storytellers: Susan Orlean, New Yorker contributor and author of “The Orchid Thief”; Jill Abramson, managing editor of The New York [...]

Hank Stuever on story structure, really reporting Christmas and the problem with the “sacred space” approach to narrative

Washington Post reporter Hank Stuever writes in a variety of  narrative forms, from books to punchy television reviews and features. His latest book, “Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present,” is based on time he spent in Frisco, Texas, beginning in 2006. Making good on the title’s evocations of both sweetness and Scrooge, Stuever explores [...]

Rebecca Skloot on narrating history: “looking for that one family, that one person, that one moment that will help hold everything together”

We spoke this week with Rebecca Skloot, author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” A longtime science writer with a commitment to narrative, Skloot has written for The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Discover, among other publications. Her book recounts the story of an African-American tobacco farmer whose cancer cells [...]